Sports

Who wants a bit of controversy? (Or: Max Verstappen is the first Dutch F1 champion)

Max Verstappen won the F1 world championship today, but not without a bit of controversy. Let me paint the picture for you: Verstappen and Hamilton (7 time world champion) went into the last race of the season tied in the points. Hamilton had control most of the race, but Max based him in the last lap of the race to win. To win!

But along the way there was a slight hiccup where Hamilton was racing Verstappen hard going into the corner and Hamilton decided to cut the corner, taking an illegal line and gaining an advantage and first place. The FIA (governing body) said they would not investigate further. Then there was an absolutely brilliant battle between Hamilton and the second Red Bull Racing driver, Checo Perez (YouTube). Due to pit strategy Perez was briefly in the lead, with Hamilton trying to pass him on new tires. Verstappen was about 7-8 seconds behind. Perez managed to hold Hamilton off for one lap, slowing him down so much that Verstappen caught up to both of them. Cue the Jaws music with two Red Bulls right behind Hamilton ready to pounce… But in the end Hamilton got away again. It was great to watch.

The end of the race saw pit strategy playing out again, with Verstappen going in for new tires during a late caution but putting him back a bit further in the pack. There were only a few laps left, and it looked like the race might end under yellow. And then the FIA (governing body) decided that only the cars between Hamilton and Verstappen could unlap themselves so that the race could go green sooner, which went against the rules book. Things only got weirder from there. I believe there were complaints that Verstappen overtook Hamilton while the safety car was still on the track and unofficial complaints that Hamilton slowed down too much behind the safety car (the lead car can decide the pace and when to go, to an extent). In the end Verstappen passed Hamilton on the final lap and won the championship.

Mercedes (Hamilton’s team) has entered a two-part protest, and the FIA will deliver their ruling shortly. And I suspect if Mercedes doesn’t like the result they will go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but it remains to be seen what happens then. The ruling that Verstappen illegally overtook Hamilton behind the safety car was thrown out in the last half hour and the final ruling about FIA only letting some cars unlap themselves before the final lap will occur shortly.

It was quite a surreal race, and not the way I wanted it to end. Hamilton was a class act with his response, gracious in defeat. It did remind me a bit of the podcast episode “The 1972 Olympic Men’s Basketball Final” from the podcast Everything Everywhere. At least in that this one will be talked about for a very long time, and the diehard fans for either side will probably keep supporting their side. But it is probably good that everyone can get a break for a few months. The 2022 season starts in March!

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Max wins! (And: The Netherlands goes insane)

Max Verstappen just won the Dutch Grand Prix. Woohoo!

It was definitely a bit nerve-racking to watch. While he was leading most of the way, Lewis Hamilton was very close by. This was the first Dutch Grand Prix since 1985. Originally the Netherlands had been awarded the race last year, but it was delayed for a year due to the corona crisis (the organizers didn’t want to hold the first race with no fans).

Above: lots of fireworks (above the Heineken banner which says “Turn up the Max!” and all along the track). The rest of the orange smoke is fans with orange smoke bombs. It’s interesting that you see a bit of orange smoke right by the track, meaning an official volunteer or similar also had a smoke bomb in their possession just for this moment…

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Let’s go racing! (Or: Formula 1 preparations in Zandvoort)

Formula 1 is coming back to the Netherlands this year, the first time since 1985. It will be held in the dunes of Zandvoort. The race should have happened last year, however due to Covid-19 the Dutch Grand Prix organizers decided to pull out of the racing schedule rather than have a race without fans. Fast forward to this month, where the organizers are (cautiously) planning for 105,000 visitors a day on 2, 3 and 4 September.

My favorite part to read about is the preparations the national Dutch train company has put in place for this event. At the moment 2 to 6 trains arrive in Zandvoort (a beach town) every hour. During the F1 event, 12 trains will arrive every hour, one every 5 minutes. In that way 10,000 people can be transported to the race every hour. That infrastructure did not exist before the F1 deal was signed; it was built in the last few years. During the race weekend the area will all but be inaccessible by car – you would need a special pass to reach it, even if you are just trying to visit the beach. So, the train is definitely the way to go.

Zandvoort preparing for Grand Prix despite Covid restrictions from nltimes.nl. There is of course a bit of uncertainty in the air, since last minute Covid restrictions could put a stop to the plans to be at full capacity. Since the Grand Prix is categorized as a sporting event and everyone has assigned seating, being at full capacity is currently allowed. That might change between now and the beginning of September, depending on how the Covid situation develops in the Netherlands. At the moment cases are decreasing at an average of 40-45% per week, so that is very good news. But you never know.

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Blinded by the light (Or: Shocking orange)

As you know, diehard Dutch fans are covered from head to toe in orange during major sporting events. Here is a photo Marco took a few weeks ago of someone walking down the street.

Note: I actually cropped this a bit to hide the dirty street. The photo is a bit blurry because they were actually further away.

Speaking of sporting events, Jumbo (a national grocery store) is under fire for their commercial (YouTube) advertising their European championship gear. The main sponsor is Albert Heijn, another grocery store. However Jumbo uses a song that is widely associated with the 2017 women’s team and the commercial features a parade which is also generally associated with Dutch national football. See also: Jumbo the winner in dispute with KNVB over Euro 2020 advertising from dutchnews.nl.

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Tuesday tidbits (Or: Random news here and there)

Around lunchtime today I went to The Guardian’s website to check the news. Instead, I see a white screen with a tiny error message. As I have done countless times over the years, I then went to to Down for Everyone or Just Me. The website reassured me that the error wasn’t just on my side. Around then work got crazy again, so I forgot about it for a while (until work was less crazy and I could actually make some lunch).

It turns out the error hit more than just The Guardian. See also this article: Massive internet outage hits websites including Amazon, gov.uk and Guardian from theguardian.com. The best part of the article? This quote: “The GuardianΒ moved to Twitter to run a dedicated liveblog, while tech news site the Verge published news to a shared Google Doc – until a reporter accidentally shared a link on Twitter that allowed the audience to edit it.” Opps…?

Also, from dutchnews.nl: Zandvoort organisers expect 50,000 F1 fans to cycle to Grand Prix. In other words, park at a nearby parking lot and hop on a bike to get to the race track. This September, the Netherlands will be hosting the first Dutch Grand Prix since 1985 (!). It was supposed to happen last year but it was cancelled due to corona. The organizers rightfully did not want to hold the race without fans. I suspect there would have been huge riots if they had tried. The best part (even though it is not in the article)? There will also be a special bus line with the number #33 – aka, Max Verstappen’s number.

And from nltimes.nl: GGD Utrecht gives away 1,200 Covid-19 vaccines after power failure kills cold storage. The best part here? They had so many people show up they had to turn people away. Of course, the vaccines were first offered to healthcare workers or safety workers in the region and then the offer was opened to the public. It was 1,200 Janssen vaccines (J&J vaccines for any Americans reading this) so one shot was enough. The site brought in extra workers to manage the crowds and stayed open past midnight. Nicely done!

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Friday evening meals (Or: A bit of heat to end the week)

On Friday Marco and I cooked Kolhapuri chicken curry, a spicy, flavorful meal accompanied by naan bread. We found the recipe in our “Indian Food and Cooking” recipe book (Amazon.com link). The chicken joints were first marinated in yoghurt combined with chili powder, black paper, garlic, gram masala and more goodness. Top it off with some garnish (tomato, red pepper slices, fresh coriander) and you have a spicy treat.

Marco and I watched the Eurovision Song contest finale last night. We usually don’t–he watched begrudgingly but did get invested in the end. But since it was held in Rotterdam this year I wanted to watch. Article from nltimes.nl (note: spoilers).

The highlight of the night was seeing Iceland’s presenter: Olaf Yohansson is a Eurovision hit as he tries to award 12 points to Jaja Ding Dong from radiotimes.com (YouTube link). If that does not make sense to you then you need to watch Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga on Netflix. It is a comedy by Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams. Olaf Yohansson was a character who is known for repeatedly shouting “Play Jaja Ding Dong!” (YouTube) at the main characters at one of the local bars.

Oh, and for the first time in history a Dutch driver is on top of the Formula 1 standings after a win today at Monaco (see also formula1.com). Crazy!

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Englandspiel (Or: A plaque in the Binnenhof)

A few months back I talked about the shortcut you could take to get in and out of the Binnenhof. In that area you can also find a plaque about the Englandspiel (English Wikipedia), a German counterintelligence operation held during World War II. The German forces captured nearly all of the British and Dutch allies, executing 50 of them.

Marco took this photo last week, hence the flowers for Remembrance Day on May 4.

The topo of the plaque reads “They leapt to death for our freedom”.

In other news, Ajax (the Dutch football champions) posted this video on Twitter. They melted the championship trophy into 42,000 stars to give to each of their season ticket holders as a thanks for their support over the last season. Each star weighed 3.45 grams.

Read more at nltimes.nl: Ajax melts championship dish, awards a piece to season ticket holders

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Sushimex (Or: A new restaurant for those who can’t decide)

Do you want sushi? Do you want Mexican food?

If you answered “both”, why not try the new restaurant in The Hague’s city centre? Sushimex (indebuurt.nl, in Dutch) opened last month on the Korte Poten. The menu at thuisbezorgd.nl (in English) lists pokΓ© bowls, temaki, burritos, nachos, spring rolls, mozzarella sticks… it’s so crazy that I might just be interested.

The Dutch ministry of health has released their vacation plan:

Living in the Netherlands? Find out when you can get vaccinated against Covid-19, and where from nltimes.nl. Spoiler: As a healthy adult under the age of 60, I have to wait a while. The vaccination location in The Hague is actually at the parking lot of the ADO Den Haag football stadium (adodenhaag.nl, in Dutch), although I’m not sure if other locations will be available in our area later in the year.

It’s possible to get to the stadium with public transportation (and a 10 minute walk) or by car, at least. I know that because a group of us went to an ADO Den Haag game back in October 2017:

Start of the ADO Den Haag game, back in 2017. The opponent was Rotterdam Sparta. Back when crowds were allowed…
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Black skies (Or: Birds dancing across the sky)

When I went to the kitchen to clean up after dinner this evening I heard a strange noise. At first I thought it was water running, making me think it was raining outside. But no – I looked outside and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. The ground was (relatively) dry.

…Until waves and waves of birds flew up over our apartment complex. Hundreds of birds, flying in undulating waves, this way and that. It looked like my own personal nature screensaver. After a few minutes most of them landed on the large tree on the other side of the apartment complex. It made me wonder: could those thin branches really could hold 8 to 10 birds without snapping? (I could not help thinking of Pixar’s short For the birds on Youtube.) I stood and watched for a while until they left. I mean, it is definitely better than washing dishes, right?

Unconfirmed rumor: Grand Prix to return to Zandvoort on 2 May 2021 from nltimes.nl. The first Dutch Grand Prix since 1985 was supposed to be held this year, but was postponed due to the corona crisis. I suppose it is a rumor, but really – how could Zandvoort not be on the 2021 race calendar?

Dutch state broadcaster pulls logo from vans after attacks from theguardian.com. The world is a weird place these days. The state broadcaster (NOS) has removed their logo because of the abuse they have been receiving.

NOS van at Malieveld earlier this year (they expected a demonstration, although none came that day if I remember correctly)

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Football linesmen (And: Overeager makeup assistants)

Note: for those Americans among us, by football I mean soccer. But since I now live in Europe, I am required to call it football.

Today I have two of the most random articles ever for you, spotted recently. The first article – imagine you’re a football referee at home, a linesman to be exact. You’re enjoying dinner with your mom and her friend when you get a call asking if you could quickly come over and help with officiating the rest of the game. Why? The head referee was injured and there was no backup available at the game. That is exactly what happened to this referee: Grensrechter opgeroepen om in te vallen tijdens voetbalderby: ‘Zat bij mijn moeder te eten’ from omroepwest.nl. Luckily he was able to gather his gear really quickly and the game itself was only about 5 miles up the road.

The head referee was able to walk off the field with a calf injury. The other linesman took over as head referee and (after confirmation from the Dutch football league KNVB) this gentleman was allowed to take over as linesman. Because of that the last 20 minutes of the game could be played. I’m mostly amused that he talks about how he was at home eating with his mom when he got the call.

The other news story is a minor blooper that I read about last week. During a live broadcast the makeup artist walked on set to touch up the presentator’s makeup, not realizing the camera was still rolling. He was quite the gentleman though and was able to laugh it off and keep going. The best part? She didn’t believe him at first.

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