Niki Lauda: Formula One legend dies, aged 70

21 May

Three-time Formula One world champion Niki Lauda has died.

His family said the 70-year-old ‘passed away peacefully’ on Monday in a statement reported by the Austria Press Agency.

Two of Lauda’s three titles were won after a terrible crash at the German Grand Prix in 1976 that left him with serious burns
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“His unique successes as a sportsman and entrepreneur are and remain unforgettable,” the statement said.

“His tireless drive, his straightforwardness and his courage remain an example and standard for us all. Away from the public gaze, he was a loving and caring husband, father and grandfather. We will miss him very much.”

Since then, tributes have poured in for the Austrian, who was labelled a ‘legend’ by former racer Jenson Button.

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A legend has left us. Rest in peace Niki 😔 #nikilauda

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Lauda narrowly escaped death in 1976 when his Ferrari crashed at the Nurburgring in Germany.

He made a miraculous recovery despite horrific burns and finished second in the championship to Britain’s James Hunt.

The rivalry between the pair was later made into a film in 2013, starring Daniel Bruhl as Lauda and Chris Hemsworth as Hunt.

Lauda went on to win two of his three titles as well as becoming a prominent figure in the aviation industry.

Scuderia Ferrari tweeted: “Today is a sad day for F1. The big family of Ferrari learns with deep sadness the news of the death of our friend Niki Lauda, three times world champion, two with the Scuderia (1975-1977). You will remain forever in our hearts and in those of the fans. #CiaoNiki”

In 1979 he left the sport to concentrate on setting up his airline, Lauda Air.

He briefly returned to racing following an offer from McLaren, winning the F1 drivers’ championship for a third time in 1984, before retiring for good the following year.

Lauda founded a new airline, Niki, in 2003.

In later years, he served as the non-executive chairman of the Mercedes team and formed a close bond with driver Lewis Hamilton, who joined the team in 2013.

Over the past few decades, Lauda twice underwent kidney transplants, receiving an organ donated by his brother in 1997 and a kidney donated by his girlfriend in 2005.

In August last year, he underwent a lung transplant that the Vienna General Hospital said was made necessary by a ‘serious lung illness.’

He was released for rehabilitation nearly four months later but was back in hospital in January with influenza.

The world of motor sport has mourned the death of Lauda at the age of 70, with Nico Rosberg, Jenson Button among those to pay their respects
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The doctor that performed the transplant, Walter Klepetko, confirmed his death early on Tuesday morning, the Associated Press reported.

Lauda is survived by his second wife Birgit, and his children, Max, Mia, Mathias, Lukas and Christoph.

Spanish Grand Prix qualifying: Valtteri Bottas beats Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to pole position

11 May

Valtteri Bottas delivered a statement of intent in the Formula 1 championship by blowing away Lewis Hamilton to secure pole position for Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix.

Bottas, who heads Hamilton in the title race by one point, finished a staggering 0.634 seconds clear of his Mercedes team-mate in Barcelona.

Valtteri Bottas celebrates after securing pole position at the Circuit de Catalunya

It marked Bottas’ third straight pole. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel will start from third place – he finished almost nine tenths down on Bottas.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen managed to split the Ferraris. He lines up in fourth ahead of Charles Leclerc.

Bottas might have considered himself fortunate to hang on to his seat at Mercedes following an underwhelming campaign last year, in which he failed to win a single race.

But the Finn will be delighted with his start to the season, sharing two victories apiece with Hamilton, and securing yet another pole here.

Hamilton has not been at his best this weekend. The world champion made an uncharacteristic mistake on his opening timed lap to finish well behind his team-mate.

Bottas finished way ahead of Mercedes team-mate Hamilton and Ferrai’s Sebastian Vettel

“Valtteri has been quick all weekend and I just didn’t put the laps together,” said Hamilton.

“It just wasn’t a good enough job.

“I will be giving it everything tomorrow. We will try to convert this into a one-two finish and if I can reverse it I will be happy.”

Bottas added: “The season has started well and the way I hope for. I feel better and better in the car.”

Vettel had hoped the Barcelona track would be the venue for his championship fightback.

But the German, already 35 points adrift in the title race, could find no answer for the speed of the Mercedes cars.

Indeed, it is looking more and more likely that Bottas could provide the biggest threat to Hamilton’s quest for a sixth world crown.

Hamilton wasn’t at his best during Saturday’s qualifying in Barcelona 

There were gloomy faces in the Renault garage as Nico Hulkenberg fell at the first hurdle of qualifying. Hulkenberg finished seventh in the championship last year, but his French team are struggling this term.

Daniel Ricciardo, who turned his back on Red Bull to join Renault, did well to get his car into the top 10, but the Australian serves a three-place grid drop after he reversed into Daniil Kvyat at the last race. He will be 13th on the grid.

Ricciardo’s penalty promoted Lando Norris to 10th. The Brit, who is steadily impressing in his maiden season, finished two spots ahead of Carlos Sainz in the sister McLaren.

British rookie George Russell finished 1.2 sec ahead of his Williams team-mate Robert Kubica, out-qualifying the Pole for a fifth time in as many races.

The 21-year-old, however, will be demoted to the back of the field, penalised for taking on a new gearbox after he crashed out of final practice.

Mick Schumacher: Son of legendary Formula 1 driver makes eye-catching test debut in Bahrain

2 Apr

Mick Schumacher made an impressive debut for Ferrari during Formula 1 testing in Bahrain.

The son of seven-time world Champion Michael was the second fastest on the first day of testing.

Mick Schumacher was testing for Ferrari

Max Verstappen was the only man faster than Schumacher – coincidentally, their fathers were teammates in 1994.

The 20-year-old began his Formula 2 season – the feeder to F1 – last week and finished eighth in his first race.

Schumacher was the second fastest in Bahrain

Verstappen posted 1:29.379 in the final 10 minutes to finish six tenths ahead of the 20-year-old.

Schumacher had a total of 56 laps in the Ferrari and was leading the field with just over 20 minutes remaining.

Lewis Hamilton was sixth fastest with a time of 1:31.156 and racked up 77 laps in his Mercedes.

Fellow Brit Lando Norris was restricted to just 22 laps but was third quickest in his McLaren.

Schumacher was following in his father’s footsteps

Schumacher will be back testing at Bahrain on Wednesday but this time for Alfa Romeo, a Ferrari affiliated team.

Schumacher senior has not been seen in public since 2013 following a skiing accident that left him with severe brain injuries.

His family have not spoken about his condition believing that is what Michael would have wanted.

Michael Schumacher son, Mick, to make Formula One test debut for Ferrari next week

26 Mar

Mick Schumacher will make his official Formula One debut in a test for Ferrari next week.

The 20-year-old, son of seven-time world champion Michael, will drive for the Italian team in Bahrain – on Tuesday, April 2 – before testing for Alfa Romeo at the same venue a day later.

Mick Schumacher is set to follow in his father’s footsteps

Schumacher Jr, who begins his Formula Two campaign – the feeder championship to F1 – at the Sakhir Circuit later this week, said: “I am obviously more than excited and would like to thank Ferrari for giving me this opportunity.

“I am really looking forward to what I’m sure will be a great experience.

“But for the moment, I am consciously putting all thoughts of the test to one side, because I am also very much looking forward to competing in my first F2 race and would like to focus a hundred per cent on the weekend to come.”

Schumacher Jr’s participation in next week’s first in-season test will be seen as another major stride to following in his father’s footsteps.

Schumacher Sr won five of his seven world titles racing for Ferrari at the turn of the century. He also won a record 91 grands prix.

The German, however, has not been seen in public since his dreadful skiing accident more than five years ago.

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Ferrari also revealed their young British driver, Callum Ilott, will be handed his F1 debut in a test with Alfa Romeo at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya in May.

Ferrari team principal, Mattia Binotto said: “We are firm believers in the value of the Ferrari Driver Academy (FDA), as a high-level training programme for talented youngsters and the decision to give Charles Leclerc a race seat with our team is proof of that.

“Mick, who joined the FDA in January, and Callum, who has been with us since 2017, are definitely drivers on their way up and I believe that driving the SF90 in an official setting such as the tests in Bahrain and Barcelona can be very useful at this stage in their career.”

Who is on pole for Australian Grand Prix: UK race start time, TV channel and live stream for 2019 F1 season opener in Melbourne

15 Mar

Formula One is set to roar back into life this weekend with the 2019 season getting underway at the Australian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton is looking for a sixth world championship after lifting the title once again last season.

Lewis Hamilton will begin his F1 title defence at the Australian Grand Prix

And he has made quite the start to his season, setting a new track record – and then beating it again – to take pole position in Melbourne.

Hamilton clocked a one minute 21.014-second lap in Q2 and went more than half a second faster to claim his 84th career pole and sixth consecutive at Albert Park.

He will start alongside team-mate Valtteri Bottas while Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel qualified third, 0.704 seconds behind the five-time world champion.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was 0.130 seconds further behind and Vettel’s new team-mate Charles Leclerc starts fifth ahead of Haas drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen.

When is the Australian Grand Prix?

The Australian Grand Prix will be held on Sunday, March 17 with the race set to get underway at 5.10am UK time or 4.10pm in Melbourne.

What TV channel is the Australian Grand Prix on and can I live stream it?

The Australian Grand Prix will be live on Sky Sports F1 from 3.30am on Sunday.

Non-Sky Sports subscribers can watch the race on TV by ordering a NOW TV Day Pass for £8.99.

To live stream the race, log into your Sky Go account.

Ferrari star Sebastian Vettel won the Australian Grand Prix last season

Where is the Australian Grand Prix held?

As has been the case since 1996, the Australian Grand Prix will be held at Albert Park, Melbourne.

Drivers will race 58 laps.

Ferrari star Sebastian Vettel has won the race in the last two seasons while Hamilton last won it for Mercedes in 2015.

Formula One 2019: Driver line-up

Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas

Ferrari: Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc

Red Bull: Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly

Renault: Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg

Haas: Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen

Mclaren: Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris

Racing Point: Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll

Alfa Romeo: Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi

Toro Rosso: Daniil Kvyat and Alex Albon

Williams: George Russell and Robert Kubica

Kimi Raikkonen to leave Ferrari at end of season, will be replaced by Charles Leclerc

11 Sep

Kimi Raikkonen will leave Ferrari at the end of the season.

The Italian Formula 1 team announced the departure of the former world champion in a statement on Tuesday.

Raikkonen will leave at the end of the current campaign

The 38-year-old Finn has driven for Ferrari in two spells, from 2007 to 2009 and from 2014 to the current season.

“During these years, Kimi’s contribution to the team, both as a driver and on account of his human qualities, has been fundamental. He played a decisive role in the team’s growth and was, at the same time, always a great team player,” Ferrari said.

“As a world champion for Scuderia Ferrari, he will always be part of the team’s history and family. We thank Kimi for all of this and wish him and his family a prosperous future.”

There will be no speculation about Raikkonen’s future, though, as he has already revealed a return to Sauber on a two-year deal.

He started his career with the team in 2001 and wrote on his Instagram account: “Guess who’s back?! Next two years with @sauberf1team ahead! Feels extremely good to go back where it all began!”

Ferrari immediately revealed Raikkonen’s successor by announcing Sauber’s Charles Leclerc as his replacement.

“Scuderia Ferrari announces that in the next Formula One racing season, Charles Leclerc will drive for the Team alongside Sebastian Vettel,” said a team statement.

Leclerc, 20, was a development driver for Ferrari in 2017 before making his F1 debut with Sauber this season

 

Daniel Ricciardo to leave Red Bull for Renault at end of 2018 as Max Verstappen puts Australian in his shadow

3 Aug

Daniel Ricciardo will quit Red Bull for Renault next after the 2018 season after becoming fed up at being the team’s No2 driver.

Max Verstappen, nine years Ricciardo’s junior, is the team’s top priority and Ricciardo has had enough, with the team confirming his departure on Friday.

Ricciardo’s five-year stay at Red Bull is set to come to an end

The Australian, 29, also held talks with McLaren and had his sights set on a dream move to Ferrari, according to the Mail.

Ricciardo’s decision to leave came after a meeting with the Red Bull owner in Austria but it did not convince him he was a valued member of the team.

After missing out on Ricciardo, McLaren will likely pick up Carlos Sainz, who is out of contract at Renault and will likely be forced out by their new arrival.

Ricciardo made his debut in Formula One in with Red Bull sister cars Hispania and Toro Rosso before stepping up to the main team to replace Mark Webber in 2014.

He sits fifth in the current drivers’ standings, one place above teammate Max Verstappen

He won three races to finish third in the drivers’ standings in his first season with Red Bull, but then slipped to eighth a year later before bouncing back to third in 2016.

Ricciardo currently sits fifth in the 2018 table with two wins to his name, including a first Monaco Grand Prix triumph.

But Dutchman Verstappen, 20, is the team’s de facto No1 driver after being handed a bumper deal last October.

He is the youngest-ever race winner in F1 but sits 13 points below Ricciardo in this year’s standings, having been hit with three retirements in the first 12 races.

Ricciardo feels the team have prioritised 20-year-old Verstappen, right, over him

Confirming Ricciardo’s exit, a Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner said: “We fully respect Daniel’s decision to leave Aston Martin Red Bull Racing and we wish him all the best in the future.

“We would like to thank him for his dedication and the role he has played since joining the team in 2014, the highlights of course being the seven wins and the 29 podiums he has achieved so far with us.”

No announcement has been made on a replacement for Ricciardo at Red Bull.

There are still nine races remaining on the 2018 F1 calendar, which is currently on its summer break.

The move will push Carlos Sainz out of Renault, with McLaren poised to sign him up for 2019

Ricciardo’s decision to quit comes just days after hinting he was about to sign a new deal with Red Bull ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix in three weeks’ time.

He told Sky Sports: “It will definitely be done by Spa. Whether it gets announced over the summer break or in Spa (I don’t know).

“It’s just a little bit of fune tuning here and there, it’s all good.

“You will hear something soon, I’m sure.”

German Grand Prix qualifying: Lewis Hamilton suffers mechanical failure while Sebastian Vettel storms to pole

21 Jul

Lewis Hamilton’s championship hopes were dealt a major blow as he suffered a mechanical failure in qualifying for Sunday’s German Grand Prix, while rival Sebastian Vettel stormed to pole.

Hamalton hitched a ride back to the Mercedes paddock after ditching his car on the track

The Brit, who is eight points adrift of Vettel in the championship standings, qualified only 15th after his car was lifted from the track.

Ferrari’s Vettel delivered a blistering lap in the dying moments of qualifying to see off the competition from Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas and take the front slot on the grid.

Kimi Raikkonen qualified third in the sister Ferrari.

The German’s breathless lap was greeted by huge cheers from the Hockenheim crowd, with Vettel now the overwhelming favourite to extend his championship lead over a crestfallen Hamilton.

German GP qualifying: 1st – Vettel, 2nd – Bottas, 3rd – Raikkonen

Hamilton reported over the radio that he couldn’t change gear, and moments later he was told to stop his Mercedes to prevent further damage to his machinery.

The defending champion had already posted a time quick enough to make it through to the second phase, so, at first, he resisted. “No, I don’t want to,” he said.

Hamilton’s hope was that would be able to get his car back to the garage to afford his team time to fix the problem. But after his race engineer Pete Bonnington demanded he pull up at the side of the track, Hamilton obliged.

In dramatic scenes, the Englishman then attempted to push his Mercedes car back to the garage. Having stopped at turn 10, however, and with a third of the 2.8-mile circuit still to complete before he reached the pits, it dawned on the Briton that his desperate attempts would be in vain.

For several seconds, an emotional Hamilton, with his crash helmet still on, crouched over his stricken Mercedes car appearing to search for answers for his qualifying demise.

Hamilton appeared devastated as his Championship suffered a huge setback

“I didn’t really understand exactly what had happened so in my mind I was thinking, ‘Get the car back to the track’, but they asked me to turn the car off,” Hamilton explained. “I jumped out and wanted to push it back but it was so far to go.

“I saw there was leaking oil and I knew that I had to stop and let the marshals put the car away somewhere. I have the will to not want to give up. I just want to keep pushing.”

Nico Rosberg, Hamilton’s former long-term rival, said in the Sky Sports commentary booth: “I’ve never seen body language like this from Lewis. This is a huge setback.”

Hamilton’s Mercedes team confirmed the stoppage, which indeed hands the initiative to Hamilton’s rival Vettel, was due to a hydraulics failure.

The British driver’s title defence has been blighted by a series of Mercedes setbacks, and his latest failure here will add to both his and the team’s worries.

Mercedes have dominated the sport for the past four years, but the increased competition from both Ferrari and Red Bull has allowed for a series of mechanical and strategical errors to rock Hamilton’s campaign.

Hamilton looked glum after emerging from the Mercedes paddock after qualifying disaster

With Hamilton out of the action, the Englishman will have hoped that Mercedes team-mate Bottas would stop Vettel from taking the spoils.

But the Finn had no answer for Vettel, who stole pole from Bottas with his final throw of the dice to finish 0.204 seconds clear of the Mercedes car.

“The last lap I had a bit left in me and I managed to squeeze everything out of the car,” a jubilant Vettel said. “I’m still full of adrenaline.”

Max Verstappen finished fourth for Red Bull ahead of the Haas duo of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean.

Daniel Ricciardo, already facing a grid penalty for engine part changes, did not set a time in Q2. He is set to start last.