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Ricciardo nabs eighth-fastest by the seat of his pants

Ricciardo nabs eighth-fastest by the seat of his pants

15/03/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 28693119

While Daniel Ricciardo says he’s settled well into his new Renault team, the Australian has not found the seat in his car quite so snug.

On a day when Ricciardo could only manage eighth-fastest in second practice the local lad also had to endure an opening practice session where his nether regions suffered from a lack of form fitting comfort.

In the early session Ricciardo finished in P17 out of 20, with his garage having to hammer a softer finish on his seat in the “gentleman area” as the team’s development driver Jack Aitken delicately put it.

“It was good to get the first day done. It’s been a busy week with a big build-up, so to get Friday practice completed is nice,” Ricciardo said after practice as he contemplates life as a likely mid-field starter ahead of Saturday qualifying.

“We had some consistent running in FP2 and I was certainly growing more comfortable on each run.

“We still have lots to learn and improve on, but we’re getting there. For me, it’s about developing the understanding of the car and we’ve made a good start on that today.

Qualifying will be interesting tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it.”

Ricciardo has had a busy week ahead of his home Grand Prix, telling a Renault function on Tuesday night that he was happy to be in Melbourne, but even keener to get the formalities out of the way.

“It’s nice to be here. It’s nice just to go racing again,” he said. “Yeah we drove the cars in testing, but testing is kind of, not really the same. I was happy to come home but also to go racing.”

Ricciardo was not so pleased with reports about his new salary at Renault, which has been suggested is $48.95 million for two years.

That would make him Australia’s highest paid athlete and third-highest paid formula one driver behind only Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who have nine world titles between them.

“That kind of bums me out because a lot of people reading that will believe it,” Ricciardo told reporters.

Renault teammate Nico Hulkenberg spent most of the first session in the garage with electrical issues but still finished 10th-fastest. He bettered the Australian in the second run as well, finishing seventh.

Lewis Hamilton claimed the top spot in the second practice from Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, with Max Verstappen third-fastest in the new Honda-powered Red Bull.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel had been second-fastest in the morning session, but suffered handling issues and could only manage fifth-fastest in the second dig.

2019 Formula One Australian Grand Prix – Free Practice 2 
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 33 1:22.600
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 33 1:22.648 0.048
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull 33 1:23.400 0.800
4 Pierre Gasly Red Bull 31 1:23.442 0.842
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 35 1:23.473 0.873
6 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 40 1:23.572 0.972
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 37 1:23.574 0.974
8 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 31 1:23.644 1.044
9 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 35 1:23.754 1.154
10 Romain Grosjean Haas 37 1:23.814 1.214
11 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 36 1:23.933 1.333
12 Kevin Magnussen Haas 27 1:23.988 1.388
13 Lance Stroll Racing Point 38 1:24.011 1.411
14 Carlos Sainz McLaren 26 1:24.133 1.533
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 37 1:24.293 1.693
16 Sergio Perez Racing Point 34 1:24.401 1.801
17 Alex Albon Toro Rosso 40 1:24.675 2.075
18 Lando Norris McLaren 26 1:24.733 2.133
19 George Russell Williams 32 1:26.453 3.853
20 Robert Kubica Williams 33 1:26.655 4.055

-with AAP

 

 

The post Ricciardo nabs eighth-fastest by the seat of his pants appeared first on The New Daily.



https://thenewdaily.com.au/sport/motorsport/2019/03/15/ricciardo-eighth-fastest-in-first-practice-for-renault/
Ricciardo’s bottom line: Only eighth-fastest practice time

Ricciardo’s bottom line: Only eighth-fastest practice time

15/03/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 28693159

While Daniel Ricciardo says he’s settled well into his new Renault team, the Australian has not found the seat in his car quite so snug.

On a day when Ricciardo could only manage eighth-fastest in second practice the local lad also had to endure an opening practice session where his nether regions suffered from a lack of form fitting comfort.

In the early session Ricciardo finished in P17 out of 20, with his garage having to hammer a softer finish on his seat in the “gentleman area” as the team’s development driver Jack Aitken delicately put it.

“It was good to get the first day done. It’s been a busy week with a big build-up, so to get Friday practice completed is nice,” Ricciardo said after practice as he contemplates life as a likely mid-field starter ahead of Saturday qualifying.

“We had some consistent running in FP2 and I was certainly growing more comfortable on each run.

“We still have lots to learn and improve on, but we’re getting there. For me, it’s about developing the understanding of the car and we’ve made a good start on that today.

Qualifying will be interesting tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it.”

Ricciardo has had a busy week ahead of his home Grand Prix, telling a Renault function on Tuesday night that he was happy to be in Melbourne, but even keener to get the formalities out of the way.

“It’s nice to be here. It’s nice just to go racing again,” he said. “Yeah we drove the cars in testing, but testing is kind of, not really the same. I was happy to come home but also to go racing.”

Ricciardo was not so pleased with reports about his new salary at Renault, which has been suggested is $48.95 million for two years.

That would make him Australia’s highest paid athlete and third-highest paid formula one driver behind only Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who have nine world titles between them.

“That kind of bums me out because a lot of people reading that will believe it,” Ricciardo told reporters.

Renault teammate Nico Hulkenberg spent most of the first session in the garage with electrical issues but still finished 10th-fastest. He bettered the Australian in the second run as well, finishing seventh.

Lewis Hamilton claimed the top spot in the second practice from Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, with Max Verstappen third-fastest in the new Honda-powered Red Bull.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel had been second-fastest in the morning session, but suffered handling issues and could only manage fifth-fastest in the second dig.

2019 Formula One Australian Grand Prix – Free Practice 2 
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 33 1:22.600
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 33 1:22.648 0.048
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull 33 1:23.400 0.800
4 Pierre Gasly Red Bull 31 1:23.442 0.842
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 35 1:23.473 0.873
6 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 40 1:23.572 0.972
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 37 1:23.574 0.974
8 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 31 1:23.644 1.044
9 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 35 1:23.754 1.154
10 Romain Grosjean Haas 37 1:23.814 1.214
11 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 36 1:23.933 1.333
12 Kevin Magnussen Haas 27 1:23.988 1.388
13 Lance Stroll Racing Point 38 1:24.011 1.411
14 Carlos Sainz McLaren 26 1:24.133 1.533
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 37 1:24.293 1.693
16 Sergio Perez Racing Point 34 1:24.401 1.801
17 Alex Albon Toro Rosso 40 1:24.675 2.075
18 Lando Norris McLaren 26 1:24.733 2.133
19 George Russell Williams 32 1:26.453 3.853
20 Robert Kubica Williams 33 1:26.655 4.055

-with AAP

 

 

The post Ricciardo’s bottom line: Only eighth-fastest practice time appeared first on The New Daily.



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Formula one: A day at the track …. tragedy, grit and sharks

Formula one: A day at the track …. tragedy, grit and sharks

14/03/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 28689866

In a sport where every rule and technical regulation is designed to mitigate against the risk of sudden death, the news that longtime formula one race director Charlie Whiting had passed away hit drivers hard.

Whiting, 66, was the man responsible for ensuring the drivers’ safety on track. He would walk the track checking for flaws and pulled them into line when their hyper-competitiveness pushed them towards dangerous territory.

It was a sombre team paddock on Thursday as news filtered through that the Englishman had suffered a pulmonary embolism.

At the drivers’ press conference, all were effusive in their praise of Whiting’s calm and professional influence.

“I’ve known him for a long time and he’s been our man – the drivers’ man,” said Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

In 2016 Vettel was involved in an infamous expletive-laden spray directed towards the race director over team radio. The four-time world champion apologised after the race, and Whiting was quick to forgive him saying “things happen in the heat of the moment”.

Vettel had walked the Melbourne track with Whiting on Wednesday and summed up the mood of the drivers who felt like they had lost an ally and friend.

“He was the middle man – someone you could ask anything anytime,” Vettel said.

“At any time, his door was always open. He was a racer. He was just a very nice guy.”

Pole’s Position

While the loss of Whiting put a dampener on day one at the track, there was also real joy to see Polish driver Robert Kubica back in Melbourne and in formula one after a near-death rallying accident in 2011.

Kubica’s return for Williams is unlikely to result in many Grand Prix podiums, but he garnered plenty of laughs when noting that he had been more focused on work than holidays in the lead-up to the new season.

Comeback trail: Robert Kubica meets the fans in Melbourne. Photo: Getty

“I had a bit longer winter break [than the others],” he said to laughs from his peers. “It was quite busy knowing that you will be a race driver so that makes a big difference.”

Ever the diplomat, Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo took it upon himself to note Kubica’s achievement in returning to formula one after a crash barrier sliced through his right arm.

“I don’t think we all really know the extent of what he went through to get back here, so I just think it is awesome to see him back,” said Ricciardo.

“I’ve known him from when I moved to Europe back in 2007, which feels like a long time, but it is just a testament to his character [to return] and I really think it is awesome.”

Lewis v sharks

As far as near-death experiences go, Lewis Hamilton is apparently convinced he’d rather take his chances on the track than in the surf.

Asked about his activities in the off-season, Hamilton said he’s enjoyed some surfing, but definitely not in Australia.

“I wanted to do it here, but I couldn’t find a netted area to go. I just can’t go where there are sharks,” he said.

Lewis Hamilton: No sharks thanks, I’m British. Photo: Getty

“Every Australian I meet, they are like ‘Nah Nah, you’ll be all right … If a shark comes up to you punch it in the face’.”

Hamilton remained unconvinced, however, especially when local boy Ricciardo said: “I’d like to say I’d do the same, but they scare me too”.

Ricciardo v beers

For his part, Ricciardo says he spent his summer riding dirt bikes and drinking beer with mates. Although the latter appears to be a distant memory, given the weeks of training he’s put in since returning to work with his new Renault team.

“Snapping the neck off a couple of beers, snapping the neck off [is that right]?  Knock the top off, I dunno, it makes more sense when you’re drinking when you say these things,” he laughed.

“But yeah, just literally switching off after last year, that was important for me to wind down.

“What was really nice as well was I didn’t go to an airport for six weeks and I think that’s the longest [time] in 10 years that I haven’t been on a plane. So that was really pleasant.”

The post Formula one: A day at the track …. tragedy, grit and sharks appeared first on The New Daily.



https://thenewdaily.com.au/sport/motorsport/2019/03/14/formula-one-a-day-at-the-track-tragedy-grit-and-sharks/
Formula One: A day at the track …. tragedy, grit and shark phobias

Formula One: A day at the track …. tragedy, grit and shark phobias

14/03/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 28689897

In a sport where every rule and technical regulation is designed to mitigate the risk of sudden death, the news that longtime Formula One race director Charlie Whiting had passed away hit drivers hard.

Whiting, 66, was the man responsible for ensuring the drivers’ safety on track. He would walk the track checking for flaws and pulled them into line when their hyper-competitiveness pushed them towards dangerous territory.

It was a sombre team paddock on Thursday as news filtered through that the Englishman had suffered a pulmonary embolism.

At the drivers’ press conference, all were effusive in their praise of Whiting’s calm and professional influence.

“I’ve known him for a long time and he’s been our man – the drivers’ man,” said Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

In 2016 Vettel was involved in an infamous expletive-laden spray directed towards the race director over team radio. The four-time world champion apologised after the race, and Whiting was quick to forgive him saying “things happen in the heat of the moment”.

Vettel had walked the Melbourne track with Whiting on Wednesday and summed up the mood of the drivers who felt like they had lost an ally and friend.

“He was the middle man – someone you could ask anything anytime,” Vettel said.

“At any time, his door was always open. He was a racer. He was just a very nice guy.”

Pole’s Position

While the loss of Whiting put a dampener on day one at the track, there was also real joy to see Polish driver Robert Kubica back in Melbourne and in Formula One after a near-death rallying accident in 2011.

Kubica’s return for Williams is unlikely to result in many Grand Prix podiums, but he garnered plenty of laughs when noting that he had been more focused on work than holidays in the lead-up to the new season.

Comeback trail: Robert Kubica meets the fans in Melbourne. Photo: Getty

“I had a bit longer winter break [than the others],” he said to laughs from his peers. “It was quite busy knowing that you will be a race driver, so that makes a big difference.”

Ever the diplomat, Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo took it upon himself to note Kubica’s achievement in returning to Formula One after a crash barrier sliced through his right arm.

“I don’t think we all really know the extent of what he went through to get back here, so I just think it is awesome to see him back,” said Ricciardo.

“I’ve known him from when I moved to Europe back in 2007, which feels like a long time, but it is just a testament to his character [to return] and I really think it is awesome.”

Lewis v sharks

As far as near-death experiences go, Lewis Hamilton is apparently convinced he’d rather take his chances on the track than in the surf.

Asked about his activities in the off-season, Hamilton said he’s enjoyed some surfing, but definitely not in Australia.

“I wanted to do it here, but I couldn’t find a netted area to go. I just can’t go where there are sharks,” he said.

Lewis Hamilton: No sharks thanks, I’m British. Photo: Getty

“Every Australian I meet, they are like ‘Nah Nah, you’ll be all right … If a shark comes up to you punch it in the face’.”

Hamilton remained unconvinced, however, especially when local boy Ricciardo said: “I’d like to say I’d do the same, but they scare me too”.

Ricciardo v beers

For his part, Ricciardo says he spent his summer riding dirt bikes and drinking beer with mates – although the latter appears to be a distant memory, given the weeks of training he’s put in since returning to work with his new Renault team.

“Snapping the neck off a couple of beers, snapping the neck off [is that right]?  Knock the top off, I dunno, it makes more sense when you’re drinking when you say these things,” he laughed.

“But yeah, just literally switching off after last year, that was important for me to wind down.

“What was really nice as well was I didn’t go to an airport for six weeks and I think that’s the longest [time] in 10 years that I haven’t been on a plane. So that was really pleasant.”

The post Formula One: A day at the track …. tragedy, grit and shark phobias appeared first on The New Daily.



https://thenewdaily.com.au/sport/motorsport/2019/03/14/formula-one-a-day-at-the-track-tragedy-grit-and-sharks/
Formula one’s calming voice Charlie Whiting dies on eve of Australian Grand Prix

Formula one’s calming voice Charlie Whiting dies on eve of Australian Grand Prix

14/03/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 28688974

Formula one stalwart, race director Charlie Whiting has died on the eve  of the opening race of the season at the Melbourne Grand Prix.

Whiting, whose ability to calm drivers and solve on-track problems, suffered a pulmonary embolism on Thursday morning in Melbourne aged 66.

The Englishman adjudicated on track conditions and race incidents and was most often in the public eye when his name was invoked by frustrated drivers over race radio.

He was also a driving force for improvements in driver safety, including the cockpit halo that has already proven its worth in preventing serious injury or death.

FIA president Jean Todt said F1 had lost “a faithful friend and a charismatic ambassador”.

Huge loss: Charlie Whiting was a beloved figure in formula one. Photo: Getty 

“I have known Charlie Whiting for many years and he has been a great race director, a central and inimitable figure in Formula One who embodied the ethics and spirit of this fantastic sport,” Todt said in a statement.

Whiting began his 42-year motor sport association in 1977 with Hesketh Racing, becoming the chief mechanic at Bernie Ecclestone’s Brabham team during Nelson Piquet’s championship winning seasons in 1981 and 1983.

Whiting joined the governing body soon after and rose to become race director, to oversee the sport’s many rules and technical regulations.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said Whiting was one of the sport’s most hard-working ambassadors.

“Charlie has played a key role in this sport and has been the referee and voice of reason as race director for many years,” Horner said.

“He was a man with great integrity who performed a difficult role in a balanced way. At heart, he was a racer with his origins stretching back to his time at Hesketh and the early days of Brabham.

Whiting had been tipped to consider retirement in the near future.

Ross Brawn, F1 Motorsports managing director, echoed the mood of many in the sport when he said he was “devastated”.

“I have known Charlie for all of my racing life. We worked as mechanics together, became friends and spent so much time together at race tracks across the world,” he said.

I was filled with immense sadness when I heard the tragic news.

“It is a great loss not only for me personally but also the entire Formula 1 family, the FIA and motorsport as a whole.”

Whiting’s calm demeanour when dealing with drivers in pre and post race meetings was highly respected, although at times drivers have criticised his rulings in the middle on on-track battles.

Drivers were often heard asking their teams “Did Charlie see that?”, seeking rulings on race regulations.

In 2016, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel caused consternation on track when he directed an expletive to the respected Whiting while scrapping with the Red Bull cars of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.

Vettel apologised immediately after the race and Whiting accepted the contrition in good grace, telling ESPN that in racing “things happen in the heat of the moment”.

-with AAP 

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NRL: Off-field controversies give way to a blockbuster opener

NRL: Off-field controversies give way to a blockbuster opener

14/03/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 28688667

After another controversial off-season, finally we get to turn our attention to NRL on-field exploits and there’s no better recipe for an amazing start than the season-opener at AAMI Park on Thursday night.

Melbourne Storm and the Brisbane Broncos have challenges ahead, but you can expect them to set a standard on Thursday that will carry them through 2019.

With the agonising transfer of Rabbitohs coach Anthony Seibold to the Broncos, we now get to see if the administration has made the right decision.

Looking at how the green coach was able to turn Souths into preliminary finalists in only one season, Brisbane fans should be excited about what could be achieved this year.

The shift-for-shift approach Seibold uses to disrupt defences certainly brings out the best in the ball carriers. That approach should suit the Broncos.

This Broncos roster is made to to benefit from this type of structure. The likes of James Roberts, Kodi Nikorima, David Fifita and Anthony Milford, in particular, are likely to be given space to light up their point-scoring abilities.

Expect to see Darius Boyd’s try-assist numbers to go through the roof this year, just as we saw Alex Johnson’s numbers do on the left hand side for Souths last year.

The big question for the Broncos’ Matt Gillett, with his return, is how far off is his best football? The neck injuries he sustained last year mean it is not just a matter of getting back onto the field, but also of building the confidence to endure the consistent contact the NRL requires.

His Origin teammate Matt Scott took more than half a season to get his mojo back and I believe the Broncos will require the same patience with Gillett. But, rest assured, this guy is more important to their success this year than many recognise.

Looking at the Storm, there has been a lot of focus on who is not there.

Undoubtedly, the departure of Billy Slater leaves a huge hole that will not be filled in the short term. However, there are upsides.

While Jerome Hughes hasn’t had a full preseason to focus on developing his fullback play, he is a player you need to put preparation time into because he is such a dangerous man in broken play.

Hughes’ big challenge will be having the same impact on the defensive structure that Slater had for such a long time.

The other factor that is being missed is who is in the Melbourne team; it has 11 players who have representative experience, while the remaining six are quality players.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy will be aware that they must be at the top of their game early in the season.

The last time the Storm lost a round one game was in 2001 – which offers an insight into how thorough Bellamy is preparing his team to start the season positively.

He understands how vital this is as, when the representative season comes around, the Storm normally get taxed as highly as any other team in the competition.

The other phenomenal aspect to Bellyaches’ coaching is his unrivalled ability to get the best out of all players.

It never fails to astound me the amount of journeymen and young players who come under his guidance and not only play their best football but also go on and play at higher levels.

I cannot wait to see how Brandon Smith, Brodie Croft and Curtis Scott have developed over this off-season. Without doubt, they will be significantly better players than in 2018.

No doubt we will be dragging out the same stat next year in respect to Melbourne’s round one success but, equally, I feel this game is going to set a standard for the 2019 season that we are going to love.

The post NRL: Off-field controversies give way to a blockbuster opener appeared first on The New Daily.



https://thenewdaily.com.au/sport/rugby-league/2019/03/14/nrl-blockbuster-opener/
Australia completes history-making comeback to win India ODI series

Australia completes history-making comeback to win India ODI series

14/03/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 28687801

Australia have completed an unprecedented ODI series victory over India in Delhi, underlining why their World Cup defence is no longer the lost cause it seemed months ago.

Calm centurion Usman Khawaja and crafty legspinner Adam Zampa enhanced their reputations as Australia defeated the hosts by 35 runs, marking the first time they have battled back from 0-2 down to win a five-match bilateral ODI series.

The three confidence-building victories came after Australia had won just four of their past 26 completed one-dayers.

Khawaja, who bettered Virat Kohli to finish the leading run-scorer of the series and all but cement his spot in Australia’s World Cup squad, scored 100 in a total of 9-272 on Wednesday.

A collapse of 6-54 followed Khawaja’s dismissal but Pat Cummins and Jhye Richardson ensured the tail wagged, taking 42 runs off the final four overs.

India crashed to 6-132 in response and were bowled out for 237 when Marcus Stoinis skittled Kuldeep Yadav’s stumps with the final ball of the series.

Australia banked their first ODI series win in India since 2009, first overseas ODI series win since 2016, first ODI series win since 2017 and plenty of momentum in their march towards the World Cup.

A seventh-wicket stand of 91 runs between Kedar Jadhav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar created some nervous moments for Australia but it was snapped by Cummins in the 46th over.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar of India bats during game five. Photo: Getty

Cummins fired out Shikhar Dhawan with the new ball, Stoinis removed Kohli for 20 then Zampa hammered home Australia’s advantage with three wickets in the space of 14 deliveries.

Rohit Sharma gave fans at Feroz Shah Kotla hope but the bumper crowd fell silent when the gun batsman was the fifth wicket to fall, dismissed for 56 in farcical fashion.

Sharma’s bat slipped from his hands while attempting to clatter a boundary and Alex Carey effected a sharp stumping off the bowling of Zampa.

Recalled offspinner Nathan Lyon was Australia’s most economical bowler, logging figures of 1-34.

Khawaja, who started the series turnaround with his maiden ODI ton in Ranchi, put on a 76-run stand with Aaron Finch then a 99-run stand with Peter Handscomb.

Australia’s selectors suddenly have the good sort of headaches, rather than scrambling to find batsmen capable of delivering match-winning innings in the absence of Steve Smith and David Warner.

Ashton Turner, who starred with 84 not out as Australia chased down a record 359 to win the preceding game, scored 20 on Wednesday after being preferred ahead of Shaun Marsh.

Australia travel to Dubai on Thursday for a five-match ODI series against Pakistan, which will be the final chance for players to impress before selectors name a 15-man World Cup squad.

AAP

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Why the world deserves to finally see a Hamilton-Vettel showdown

Why the world deserves to finally see a Hamilton-Vettel showdown

13/03/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 28686897

A decade into their formula one track rivalry, the sport’s best two drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, share an unusual distinction: they are yet to have a no-holds-barred battle on the track.

Apart from a low-speed clash behind the safety car in Azerbaijan in 2017, the two multiple World Champions have reserved their on-field stoushes for others – even their own teammates.

Overtaking moves between the pair have been rare, and even after 125 Grand Prix wins between them, formula one fans are yet to see them battling it out late in a race for the win.

Part of the reason for that has been F1’s frustrating technical rules, and that might change this season. New regulations for 2019, designed to reduce the cars’ aerodynamic wash, should allow drivers to follow the car in front more closely and, hopefully, permit more overtaking. The bad news for Australian fans is that Albert Park is one of the more notorious circuits on the schedule for its lack of overtaking.

That apart, the Hamilton-Vettel match-up remains F1’s headline act. Britain’s five-time champion is at the height of his powers and Mercedes-Benz is still the sport’s gold (silver?) standard. That said, after pre-season testing, Ferrari appears to have a speed edge with its new car.

formula one's greatest rivalry
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel (R) leads Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton during the 2018 formula one Australian Grand Prix. Photo: Getty

Hamilton goes into the season with his long-time teammate, Valtteri Bottas, alongside, but for Vettel there is a change. Ferrari has thrown out its own policy of paying a fortune to recruit another team’s world champion, to promote Charles Leclerc to the team. The 21-year-old from Monaco is a graduate of Ferrari’s Driver Academy and had a dazzling debut season with the Sauber team last year.

But the message looks clear: if Vettel can’t win the title in his fifth season with Ferrari, it may turn to Leclerc to do it in 2020.

If F1’s main act is still Silver vs Red, third place looks like Red Bull’s. After a switch to Honda engines in the off-season the team has worked hard to get the most out of its car, and is expected to bring to Melbourne a technical update that was scheduled for China next month.

With the team parting ways with Daniel Ricciardo over the summer, the speedy and controversial Max Verstappen is now the team’s firm number- one driver, but to make an impression on Hamilton and Vettel, he will need to eliminate the mistakes that have dogged previous campaigns.

The Dutchman will also have to deal with his new teammate, Pierre Gasly, who, like Vettel and Ricciardo before him, graduates to Red Bull after an impressive apprenticeship with their ‘junior’ squad, Toro Rosso.

The battle for the fourth team looks like one to watch. Ricciardo’s move was one of the off-season’s biggest stories and on paper his new team, Renault, does not yet have the speed to challenge the Big Three teams. But Ricciardo is a dogged racer.

Even if the tiger-coloured car will lack that last half-second to get onto the podium, expect Ricciardo to be at the forefront of a pack of cars chasing the leaders.

The battle for the midfield looks to be intense, with Racing Point (formerly Force India), Haas, a rejuvenated McLaren and perhaps Red Bull’s ‘second’ team, Toro Rosso, fighting with Alfa Romeo for places on the edge of the top 10. Williams, once the sport’s most successful and innovative team, looks set for a tough season, in spite of the return of Robert Kubica, whose F1 career was ended temporarily when he nearly lost his arm in a 2011 rally crash.

Sports fans did get to see Ali vs Frazier; Nicklaus vs Palmer; Evert vs Navratilova. All eyes will be on Hamilton and Vettel. As the cars and drivers assembled for the start of the season, Ferrari appears to have the edge. But Hamilton has never been one to let that stop him from winning before.

The post Why the world deserves to finally see a Hamilton-Vettel showdown appeared first on The New Daily.



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‘No protection for the players’: NBA star Russell Westbrook says fan provoked profane threat

‘No protection for the players’: NBA star Russell Westbrook says fan provoked profane threat

12/03/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 28683600

Oklahoma City basketball star Russell Westbrook said he was verbally provoked before directing a profanity-laced tirade at a fan during Thunder’s 98-89 NBA win over Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City on Monday.

A reporter from the Deseret News tweeted a video of Westbrook’s comments to the fan.

“I promise you,” Westbrook said to the fan. “You think I’m playing. I swear to God. I swear to God. I’ll (expletive) you up; you and your wife. I’ll (expletive) you up.”

When another person appears to intervene, Westbrook says, “No, (expletive) that! (Expletive) that!”

Then apparently addressing the fan again, he said, “I promise you, everything I love. Everything I love (n-word), I promise you.”

After the game, Westbrook gave his explanation.

“How it started was, a young man and his wife in the stands told me ‘to get down on my knees like you used to.’ To me, that’s just completely disrespectful, to me, I think it’s racial, and I think it’s inappropriate and insensitive. …

“If I had it to do over again, I would say the exact same thing. I truly will stand up for myself and my family. …

“As for beating up his wife, I’ve never put my hand on a woman. I never will. Never been in any domestic violence before.

“But once he said the comment, and his wife repeated the same thing as well. That’s kind of how that started.”

Salt Lake City NBC 5 identified the male fan involved in the exchange as Shane Keisel, a Jazz fan, and spoke with him.

Keisel said he was playfully bantering with Westbrook before Westbrook started cursing at him.

“I never said a single swear word to him, not one,” Keisel told the TV station. “Initially, I was like, ‘Oh, I’m talking with Westbrook, the guy is one of the greats. He’s also classless. …

“He can threaten me all he wants. I was the one talking to him, but don’t threaten a woman. She’s 5 feet tall and 110 pounds, man. (She) never said a word to him.”

Five fans at the game were issued “warning cards” citing the NBA’s code of conduct after the incident, the Deseret News reported.

Last year, Westbrook knocked a phone out of a fan’s hand in Salt Lake City after a Thunder playoff loss.

-AAP

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https://thenewdaily.com.au/sport/basketball/2019/03/12/nba-russell-westbrook-profane-threat/
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