Tagged in: race

Lewis Hamilton to race at Canada GP, says ‘wouldn’t miss it for the world’ despite pain

Lewis Hamilton has said he will be at the Canadian Grand Prix this weekend and “would not miss it for the world,” despite enduring severe back pain at Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The seven-time world champion described Baku as “the toughest race” of his career after suffering more bouncing issues, with Mercedes fearing he might not be fit to race in Canada.

“Yesterday was tough and I had some trouble sleeping, but I’ve woken up feeling positive today,” Hamilton said in a social media post on Monday.

“My back is a little sore and bruised but nothing serious thankfully.”

“I’ve had acupuncture and physiotherapy and I’m on my way to my team to work with them on improving.

“We have to keep fighting. I’ll be there this weekend — I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

Hamilton concluded fourth in Baku, after starting seventh in a race where both Ferrari drivers retired, and later told reporters it was “the most painful race” he had experienced.

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Team boss Toto Wolff recognized the situation raised concerns.

“He’s really bad,” the Austrian told reporters. “We’ve just got to find a solution… I think he is maybe the worst affected from all drivers.”

“I haven’t seen him and I haven’t spoken to him afterwards, but you can see this is not muscular anymore.

“I mean, this goes properly into the spine and it can have some consequences.”

Hamilton, who clutched his back as he clambered out of the car, likened the experience to enduring a four minute cryotherapy session and said he just focused on all the people counting on him to score points.

Teammate George Russell, who finished third, warned on Saturday that it was only a matter of time before the ‘porpoising’ problem caused a major accident.

“I don’t really know what the future holds but I don’t think we can sustain this for three years or however long these regulations are in force for,” he said.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner, whose drivers finished one-two with world champion Max Verstappen leading Sergio Perez, suggested rivals might be over-playing the problems to secure a favorable rule change on safety grounds.

“I’d tell them to bitch as much as they could and make as big an issue out of it as they possibly could,” he said when asked what he would tell his drivers if they suffered from similar bouncing.

“It’s part of the game. It’s like somebody going into a penalty box.

“You can see it’s uncomfortable but there are remedies to that. But it is to the detriment of the car performance. So the easiest thing to do is to then complain from a safety point of view,” he added.

Raising the car’s ride height would remove much of the bouncing but that would also negatively impact on performance.

Champions Mercedes have been struggling more than most with the bouncing as teams come to terms with sweeping new regulations.

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Verstappen wins as both Ferraris retire in Baku

Ferrari’s championship chances took a critical blow at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix as both its cars retired from the race while Max Verstappen led a one-two victory for rivals Red Bull.

The two Ferraris suffered reliability issues in the first half of the race, with Charles Leclerc suffering an engine failure on lap 20 and Carlos Sainz pulling off the road with a hydraulic failure on lap nine.

The double retirement paved the way for Red Bull to take maximum points with a comfortable one-two victory, extending Verstappen’s lead in the championship to 21 over teammate Sergio Perez and 34 points over Leclerc.

Red Bull now leads Ferrari by 80 points in the constructors’ championship.

The retirements add to a dire run of form for Ferrari, with Leclerc retiring from the lead in Spain three weeks ago, missing out of victory in Monaco two weeks ago due to a botched strategy and retiring in Baku after securing pole position on Saturday. “I can’t find the words to describe it, it’s very, very disappointing,” Leclerc said after the engine failure.

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Prior to the retirement, Leclerc had dropped to third place after losing a position to Perez at the start before Ferrari took a gamble on an early pit stop under a Virtual Safety Car for Sainz’s retirement that moved Leclerc behind Verstappen.

The strategy may have paid off as Leclerc lost less time in his pit stop than the Red Bulls were due to under normal racing conditions, but when smoke emerged from the rear of his car on lap 20 it failed to plan out.

When Leclerc made his early pit stop, Verstappen found free air and quickly cruised up to the rear of Perez’s car in the lead.

On lap 15 he lined Perez up and overtook him into Turn 1, but only after Perez had been told “no fighting” by his Red Bull engineer over team radio.

Verstappen clearly had a pace advantage over his teammate, and in the space of a lap extended his lead over Perez to three seconds.

Perez was the first of the two Red Bulls to pit on lap 17, but any chance of making use of his fresh tires to gain an advantage over his teammate was lost when his car failed to come off the jacks after the tire change.

Verstappen pitted two laps later and re-emerged in the lead before extending his advantage over Perez to 20 seconds by the end of the race.

With the two Ferraris out of the picture, George Russell secured his third podium finish of the year for Mercedes ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton, who found himself in a strategic battle with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly for fourth place.

Hamilton made an extra stop over Gasly and his fresh tires towards the end of the race saw him take the position with an overtaking move on lap 45.

Gasly held on to fifth place to finish ahead of Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel in sixth, the Alpine of Fernando Alonso in seventh and the two McLarens of Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris in eighth and ninth. Esteban Ocon took the final point on offer in tenth.

The next round of the season will take place in Montreal next weekend.

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Max Verstappen has unfinished business at Baku’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Formula One championship leader Max Verstappen has unfinished business to take care of at this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix while also looking to reassert himself as Red Bull’s lead driver.

The Dutchman was heading for triumph at the Baku street track last year when a tire exploded and pitched him into the barrier on the high speed run along the city’s Caspian Sea waterfront.

Mexican teammate Sergio Perez took the gain instead and returns triumphant and as a potential title contender after his victory two weeks ago in Monaco.

Verstappen will be determined to stop him becoming the first driver to win twice in Baku.

“I’m looking forward to returning to Baku, we have some unfinished business there after last year,” said the 24-year-old who has a nine point lead over Ferrari rival Charles Leclerc with Perez a further six behind.

“Last year was unlucky, simple as that,” he said.

“It was a very painful one, but that happens. That’s racing… it’s different cars, different tyres (this time) and we go again.”

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Perez, who was also on the podium in Baku twice while racing for Force India, is in the form of his life and with a new two-year contract with Red Bull freshly signed.

The 6km long Baku street track, a mix of flat-out blasts and tight corners lined by unforgiving barriers, is famed for unpredictable races and has produced five different winners in five years on the calendar.

Leclerc is familiar with the track’s pitfalls, having crashed while on course for pole position in 2019.

The Monegasque and Ferrari, chasing a first title since 2008, will want the weekend to go perfectly after potential wins slipped through their fingers in Monaco and Spain.

Seven times world champion Lewis Hamilton will also be keen to make amends after failing to capitalize on Verstappen’s retirement last year when he went from second to 15th in Baku, having accidentally triggered a ‘brake magic’ function on his steering wheel.

His Mercedes team are the most successful in Baku, with three victories. A fourth looks a distant prospect unless the track throws up another surprise.

“Baku often produces some fun and crazy track action, and the layout generates good racing opportunities,” said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.

“So, let’s see if it lives up to its reputation this weekend.”

The possibility of podium appearance by a midfield team is always there. Apart from Perez’s Force India exploits, Sebastian Vettel was second last year for Aston Martin with Pierre Gasly third for AlphaTauri.

Lance Stroll’s first top-three result came in Baku with Williams in 2017.

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Max Verstappen wins wild Spanish Grand Prix as Ferrari’s race implodes

Max Verstappen won an action-packed Spanish Grand Prix in which his championship rival Charles Leclerc retired, Red Bull employed team orders to ease Verstappen’s path to victory and George Russell secured his second podium of the season for Mercedes.

Verstappen recovered from a mistake on lap nine — which saw him run through the gravel at Turn 4 and lose position to Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez — and secured the victory on lap 49 when Perez was ordered to move over and let Verstappen pass for the lead.

The controversial decision from the pit wall was labelled “very unfair” by Perez over the team radio, but he still obeyed the order when his teammate appeared in his mirrors and lined up a pass.

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Verstappen’s conquest means he holds a six point lead over Leclerc heading to the Monaco Grand Prix after the Ferrari driver was forced to retire from a comfortable race lead on lap 27 with a power unit issue.

Verstappen ended the race 17 seconds clear of Perez once the second Red Bull driver made an additional pit stop to secure the fastest lap towards the end of the race.

Russell finished third, a further 10 seconds behind Perez and one place ahead of Carlos Sainz, who recovered to fourth after a mistake at Turn 4 on lap seven dropped him from fifth place to 11th.

Lewis Hamilton took a remarkable fifth place finish after a collision on the first lap with Kevin Magnussen punctured his front left tyre and dropped him to the back of the field. Hamilton initially recovered to fourth place, but lost a place back to Sainz after his Mercedes team told him to back off in fear of the car overheating and failing to make the finish.

Valtteri Bottas took sixth for Alfa Romeo ahead of Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and Lando Norris, who battled flu-like symptoms in 35 degrees Celsius heat to finish eighth.

Fernando Alonso crossed the line a lap down in ninth ahead of Yuki Tsunoda, who took the final point on offer in 10th.

Team orders are allowed in Formula One, but are rarely used so early in a season when both drivers are still in contention for a title and both fighting for a win. However, with Ferrari appearing to have the fastest car all weekend, Red Bull clearly wanted to capitalise on Leclerc’s power unit failure and bank maximum points with minimum risk.

The next round of the championship will take place in Leclerc’s home country of Monaco next weekend.

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Bahrain Grand Prix signs new deal to remain in F1 until 2036

The Bahrain Grand Prix has signed a new deal to stay on the Formula One calendar until 2036.

The kingdom of Bahrain was the first country in the Middle East to host an F1 race in 2004 and the new contract will take the event beyond its 30th anniversary on the calendar

Bahrain will host the opening round of this year’s F1 season on March 20.

Bahrain has held a race every year since 2004 with the exception of 2011 when the event was cancelled due to civil unrest in the country.

Since 2014 the race has been held after sundown under floodlights, but as of 2022 the circuit has pledged to ensure all energy used at the race comes from sustainable sources.

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“I am delighted we will be racing at the Bahrain International Circuit until 2036 where more incredible racing and excitement will be on show to thrill our fans,” F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali stated.

“Since 2004 we have had some fantastic races in Sakhir and we cannot wait to be back there for the start of the 2022 championship as we begin a new era for the sport.

“Bahrain was the first country in the Middle East to welcome Formula One and it has a very special place in our sport, and I personally want to thank HRH Prince Salman and his team for their dedication and hard work throughout our partnership and look forward to the many years of racing ahead of us.”

The new deal is the longest for any venue in F1 and means F1’s four races in the Middle East — counting Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia and Qatar — will all run into the 2030s.

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Jimmie Johnson, Colton Herta finish second to Petter, Oliver Solberg at Race of Champions

The father-son tandem of Petter and Oliver Solberg beat the surprisingly competitive American team of Colton Herta and Jimmie Johnson on the frozen Baltic Sea to attain the Race of Champions Nations Cup.

Team Norway was led Saturday by 47-year-old Petter Solberg, the 2003 World Rally champion and two-time World Rallycross champion. His son, Oliver, is a 20-year-old rising rallying driver.

The knockout-style event was held on a snow- and ice-covered course in Pite Havsbad, Sweden, 60 miles south of the Arctic Circle.

Herta was a last-minute replacement for Travis Pastrana, who broke his back and hip in a BASE jumping accident late last month. The 21-year-old IndyCar star left for Sweden after leading his team to a class triumph Sunday in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Johnson, the seven-time NASCAR champion who is headed into a full IndyCar season this month, returned to ROC for a second time. He represented the United States alongside Jeff Gordon in their upset 2002 win in Spain.

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“Who would have thought two California guys would be here on snow and ice and finish second in the Race of Champions Nations Cup,” Johnson said in a social media video. “Awesome day for us both. I think we kind of surprised ourselves. Then I really think we had a shot at the final.

“I had a car break and a mechanical, which took me out of an opportunity in the first round. Came back and won in the Porsche. Colton was right there on pace and just came up a little short to the Solberg family. Just a super fun day. We exceeded expectations and looking forward to having some fun tonight.”

Johnson was arranged to compete Sunday for the “Champion of Champions” title in the individual ROC category.

Herta and Johnson advanced to the semifinals Saturday by defeating the German team of four-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel and Mick Schumacher.

Then they knocked off Team Finland, with Herta beating two-time F1 champion Mika Hakkinen to get Team USA into the final. Herta faced four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves in the first round.

The Race of Champions “Snow + Ice” World event pits drivers against one another in a variety of vehicles that focus on electric power.

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Buffalo Bills WR Cole Beasley on reserve/COVID-19 list, will miss game against New England Patriots

Wide receiver Cole Beasley was added to the reserve/COVID-19 list by the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday, becoming the fifth player on the active roster and seventh overall on the list.

Beasley tested positive, a source confirmed to ESPN’s Field Yates, and remains unvaccinated. He will at minimum miss the game versus the New England Patriots on Sunday and be out for 10 days. In an Instagram post Tuesday evening, Beasley said he was “feeling fine with mild symptoms.”

The game against the Patriots will decide which team takes the lead in the AFC East race with the playoffs just three weeks away. “Just to be clear COVID is not keeping me out of this game. The rules are,” Beasley wrote Tuesday on Instagram.

“Vaxxed players are playing with Covid every week now because they don’t test. One of my vaxxed teammates is in the hospital missing games. I’m sure he didn’t get this same energy. Thank you for those who support. Everyone else, if you don’t get what’s happening then there is nothing anybody can do for you.”

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Teammate Jon Feliciano, who also is on the COVID-19 list, posted on Twitter Tuesday that he “ended up in the ER on Sunday.” He appears to be the teammate “in the hospital” Beasley referenced in his post.

Left tackle Dion Dawkins, guard Feliciano, defensive end AJ Epenesa and linebacker Tyrel Dodson have been placed on the list in the past week.

All four missed the team’s victory over the Carolina Panthers, although Epenesa was out due to an ankle injury and placed on the list Monday.

Beasley was previously placed on the COVID-19 list in August after being designated a close contact with a member of the team’s training staff, but tested negative at the time. He was also fined, along with receiver Isaiah McKenzie, for not wearing masks in the facility.

Beasley was outspoken on social media regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, but the slot receiver deleted his Twitter account during the season, calling it a distraction.

“When I first got here, I got away from [social media], and then things happen,” Beasley stated in October. “And the issues that we have at hand, and I just felt like I needed to take responsibility for the guys that couldn’t.

“But it’s good for me to get back to where I wanted to be, and it’s not on there. The real world is out here and not there. Most people say things on there that you don’t want to hear. And it’s definitely a weight lifted, and I feel like I did the right thing.”

Beasley referenced not having an issue with others being vaccinated, but instead aimed the response toward those who chose not to. He often got into conversations on Twitter with fans and even teammates, speaking out against the NFL and NFLPA’s protocols.

Despite Beasley’s absence, the Bills’ passing offense still has a plethora of weapons available. McKenzie will likely see increased opportunities in the slot against New England without Beasley on the field.

Stefon Diggs is the top receiver, and Gabriel Davis has emerged as a strong No. 2 option with touchdowns in each of the past three games, in addition to tight end Dawson Knox being one of quarterback Josh Allen’s top targets in the middle of the field.

Beasley has 76 receptions for 640 yards and one touchdown this year.

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Mercedes to leave Formula E after 2022

Formula E champions Mercedes will withdraw from the all-electric series at the end of the Gen2 era in 2022 to concentrate on Formula One, the carmaker said on Wednesday.

The announcement comes three days after Dutch driver Nyck de Vries acquired the Formula E world championship title after finishing eighth in the season’s final race in Berlin, with Mercedes also winning the teams’ title after Stoffel Vandoorne’s third place.

“Mercedes-Benz today announced that it will conclude its ABB FIA Formula E success story as a team entrant and manufacturer at the end of Season 8, in August 2022,” the manufacturer said in a statement.

“Moving forward, the company will concentrate its works motorsport activities on Formula 1, reinforcing the sport’s status as the fastest laboratory for developing and proving sustainable and scalable future performance technologies.”

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In December, German manufacturers Audi and BMW confirmed they would exit Formula E at the end of this year.

Mercedes announced a new strategic direction for its brand in July, with the aim of going all-electric by the end of the decade.

“As part of the new strategic direction, the brand has deliberately chosen to shift resources for this accelerated ramp-up of electrification, including the development of three electric-only architectures to be launched in 2025,” the carmaker said.

“Therefore, Mercedes will reallocate resource away from its ABB FIA Formula E World Championship programme and towards applying the lessons learned in competition to product development in series.”

This decision leaves Mahindra, DS Automobiles, Jaguar Land Rover, Porsche, Nissan and NIO as manufacturers who have committed to the Gen3 rules that will run until the end of the 2025-26 season.

Race teams Andretti Autosport and Envision Virgin Racing are also expected to continue, while Mercedes affiliate Venturi Racing will be required to find a new powertrain partner.

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Hamilton set to race in Abu Dhabi after negative COVID-19 test

Lewis Hamilton is set to return to action with Mercedes at this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after testing negative for COVID-19.

The seven-time world champion missed last weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix after testing positive for COVID on the Monday before the race and was substituted by Williams driver George Russell.

Before the completion of 10 days in isolation in Bahrain, Hamilton tested negative for COVID on Wednesday, letting him to travel on Thursday to Abu Dhabi, where he tested negative for a second time on arrival in the United Arab Emirates.

“The FIA, Formula One and Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team can today confirm that Lewis Hamilton has returned a number of negative COVID-19 tests,” an FIA statement said.

“He has completed his ten-day quarantine in Bahrain and was free to leave the country according to the Bahraini health authority regulations.

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“Lewis has now arrived in Abu Dhabi following confirmation from the authorities that he could do so and after quarantining has now received a further negative test result.

“The FIA COVID-19 protocols remain clear and have not changed. A negative pre-test result is necessary to be given access to the Formula One Paddock as set out in Appendix S to the International Sporting Code and another negative test result no more than 24 hours following arrival is required.

“Lewis, having now tested negative in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi will be granted access to the paddock.”

Hamilton’s return to the paddock means he will be able to take part in the first practice session for this weekend’s season finale.

Russell will return to Williams, meaning his replacement for the Sakhir Grand Prix, Jack Aitken, will not drive this weekend.

The news was confirmed by the FIA on Thursday evening when the governing body announced the official entry list for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with Hamilton at Mercedes and Russell at Williams.

Speaking in a video posted on Instagram on Tuesday, Hamilton stated his week in isolation with the virus had been “one of the hardest weeks that I’ve had for some time”.

Russell concluded ninth in Hamilton’s car at the Sakhir Grand Prix. He was on target to win the race before a mistake at one of Mercedes’ pit stops resulted in the wrong tyres being fitted to his car, forcing him to make an additional pit stop before a puncture ruled him out of the running for victory.

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Williams family stepping down from its F1 team

The historic chapter-closing move comes a fortnight after the famous Grove outfit was sold to US investment firm, Dorilton Capital.

The Grove team will continue to run under the Williams name into its new era, but will no longer be run by the family.

Sir Frank, who founded the outfit with Sir Patrick Head in 1977, has been one of the most successful team principals/owners in history with seven drivers’ and nine constructors’ championships.

Claire has been in day-to-day control since 2013 in the role of deputy team principal.

She first joined the team in an official capacity in 2002. She stated the new owners had encouraged them to continue on but they had decided it was the right time to step away, having secured the team’s future via the sale and signed the new Concorde Agreement.

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“With the future of the team now secured, this feels like the appropriate time for us to step away from the sport,” said Claire Williams.

“As a family, we have always prioritized Williams. We have demonstrated that by our recent actions with the Strategic Review process and we believe now is the right time to hand over the reins and give the new owners the opportunity to take the team into the future.

“We have been in this sport for more than four decades. We are incredibly proud of our track record and the legacy we leave behind. We have always been in it for the love of it, for the pure pleasure of going motor racing, so this is not a decision that we have taken lightly but after much reflection and as a family”.

Williams have concluded bottom of the standings in each of the past two campaigns and are the only outfit without a point so far in 2020.

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