Monthly Archives: February 2020

Maria Sharapova retires: Former world number one tennis star confirms end of career with emotional blog post

Five-time grand slam winner Maria Sharapova has announced her retirement from tennis.

The former world no.1, who has been involved in the sport for 28 years, has been plagued with chronic shoulder problems in recent times.

Maria Sharapova could make tennis comeback at 2017 French Open after doping ban reduced to 15 months
Sharapova started playing tennis aged just 4 and became a world star while in her teens

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Sharapova won Wimbledon in 2004 and lifted all the other Grand Slam titles


That has seen the Russian’s ranking tumble all the way down to 373, with Sharapova now making the decision to walk away from the sport.

In an exclusive essay on, the 32-year-old wrote: “How do you leave behind the only life you’ve ever known?

“How do you walk away from the courts you’ve trained on since you were a little girl, the game that you love – one which brought you untold tears and unspeakable joys – a sport where you found a family, along with fans who rallied behind you for more than 28 years?

“I’m new to this, so please forgive me. Tennis – I’m saying goodbye.”

F1 2020 season: Driver line ups, new cars and race calendar as Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes look to dominate again

The wait is almost over with just three weeks to go until it’s ‘LIGHTS OUT AND AWAY WE GO’ for the 2020 Formula 1 season.

The pre-season nerdery of testing is under way, the cars have been launched, with swanky new liveries, new ways of saving weight, beating drag and even steering have been developed and the teams and drivers are all preparing for a fight with one goal in mind…

…how to stop Lewis Hamilton.

Lewis Hamilton has won five Formula 1 championship titles in six years

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Max Verstappen will be a contender for the Formula 1 title this season, but can he close the gap on Hamilton?

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Mercedes dominated the early stages last year, finishing one-two in the first five races and winning the first eight last year, with the Brit eventually storming to his sixth championship with two races to spare.

F1 fans will be hoping for a more competitive start this time around – nobody wants another one-horse race – and Ferrari and Red Bull engineers will be working their overalls off to make sure that happens in the coming weeks.

In fact, Red Bull boss Christian Horner recently said that he believes this season is promising to be a classic for Formula 1.

After Red Bull’s strong end to 2019 and Ferrari’s promise that they finally have a car to knock Mercedes off their perch, there is genuine excitement among the sport’s die-hard support ahead of the new campaign.

And it’s a special one, too, as the world championship celebrates its 70th anniversary, with new logos to boot.

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So, will it be title number seven for Hamilton, equalling the great Michael Schumacher, or will somebody – anybody – be able to stop this era of silver arrow dominance?

Here’s all you need to know before the opening race Down Under on March 15, in association with F1 TV.


For the first time, this year’s Grand Prix world tour features 22 races – the most ever held in one season.

Among them is the new Vietnam Grand Prix, in Hanoi, which is F1’s fourth street circuit.

Vietnam will host its first ever Formula 1 race in 2020

Meanwhile, the Dutch Grand Prix returns after a 35-year absence and there will be no race in Germany, who have lost their place in the schedule.

The Chinese Grand Prix has been postponed due to the Coronavirus outbreak and has not yet been rescheduled, and for the same reason there are also concerns over the new Vietnam GP, but for the moment that is still going ahead.

2020 F1 calendar in full

March 13-15 Australian Grand Prix, Melbourne

March 20-22 Bahrain Grand Prix, Sakhir

April 3-5 Vietnamese Grand Prix, Hanoi

April 17-19 Chinese Grand Prix, Shanghai *postponed

May 1-3 Dutch Grand Prix, Zandvoort

May 8-10 Spanish Grand Prix, Catalunya

May 21-24 Monaco Grand Prix, Monte Carlo

June 5-7 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Baku

June 12-14 Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal

June 26-28 French Grand Prix, Le Castellet

July 3-5 Austrian Grand Prix, Spielberg

July 17-19 British Grand Prix, Silverstone

July 31-August 2 Hungarian Grand Prix, Budapest

August 28-30 Belgian Grand Prix, Spa-Francorchamps

September 4-6 Italian Grand Prix, Monza

September 18-20 Singapore Grand Prix

September 25-27 Russian Grand Prix, Sochi

October 9-11 Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka

October 23-25 United States Grand Prix, Austin

October 30-November 1 Mexican Grand Prix, Mexico City

November 13-15 Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo

November 27-29 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina


So, will the fastest car win the title? Not necessarily.

Ferrari topped the charts in testing 12 months ago, and so were expected to mount an immediate challenge.

Instead? Well, we know about Mercedes’ dominance. It took the Italian team 13 races to record their first win, and they only ended up winning three races all season – two for Charles Leclerc and one for Sebastian Vettel.

So we’ll have to wait to see who begins the season on top, but until then here’s the lowdown on all the teams and drivers, with a couple of newcomers.

This is also the final season of the current car regulations, which means from 2021 they are likely to change quite dramatically. And while Mercedes were first to really grips with the current regs and develop the best car early on, their rivals have had to time to catch up, which means this season could be the most competitive at the top in quite some time.

MERCEDES (Germany)

Mercedes’ W11 car boasts a revolutionary new ’DAS’ steering system and a nice red cap, thanks to new sponsors Ineos

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Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas

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Drivers: Lewis Hamilton (GB, age 35), Valtteri Bottas (Finland, age 30)

Where they finished last season: Hamilton – 1st, Bottas – 2nd, Constructors – 1st

What’s new: Mercedes’ latest Silver Arrow boasts their new ‘DAS’ steering innovation that has baffled their competitors. The ‘dual-axis steering’ gives drivers the ability to straighten the front wheels, which are designed to be angled slightly outwards – ‘toe-out’ – to give better grip through corners. This holds the cars back slightly on the straights, though, and when Hamilton and Bottas give their steering wheels a pull it straightens the tires out, which is expected to give them an added edge over their rivals. Neat, huh However, the design is so innovative that it will be banned from 2021. It’s been given the okay for this season, though, so it be a boost for Hamilton as he aims to make history and beat Schumacher’s all-time race win record of 91.


Ferrari hope the new SF1000 can finally be the car to end Mercedes’ reign


Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel

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Drivers: Charles Leclerc (Monaco, age 22), Sebastian Vettel (Germany, age 32)

Where they finished last season: Leclerc – 4th, Vettel – 5th, Constructors – 2nd

What’s new: Ferrari have launched the SF1000 – their new car they hope will end Mercedes’ dominance. Last season the Prancing Horse boasted the fastest machine in the F1 fleet, but it had considerably less cornering ability than their German rivals. Their goal for the SF1000, then, was to increase downforce. “It’s definitely a step up from last year,” said Vettel after his first testing session. “Enough? We will see.” Arguably, as big a story as their car this season is the battle between their drivers. Last season was littered with team order controversy surrounding Vettel and Leclerc and it culminated in a crash in Brazil. Ferrari have given an indication who they think their lead drivers is, they recently handed Leclerc a new contract, but Vettel is not going to go down without a fight. This could be interesting!

RED BULL (Austria)

The RB16 is Red Bull’s second car powered by a Honda engine, and they hope it will end their run of three straight third place championship finishes

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Red Bull Racing drivers Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon

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Drivers: Max Verstappen (Netherlands, age 22), Alexander Albon (GB/Thailand, age 23)

Where they finished last season: Verstappen – 3rd, Albon – 8th, Constructors – 3rd

What’s new: Red Bull’s quest this year was to match the slower speed performance of the Mercs, according to Horner, especially their cornering ability. And so their RB16 car features new multi-link front suspension arrangement, which has made the car look super agile through the corners during testing. Mercedes and Red Bull were the top two performers in the first testing sessions, so it seems to have done the trick.

MCLAREN (Great Britain)

Carlos Sainz Jr has described McLaren’s new MCL35 car as a significant step up on its predecessor

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Carlos Sainz celebrates his third place finish at the Brazilian GP last season with McLaren teammate Lando Norris


Drivers: Carlos Saintz (Spain, age 25), Lando Norris (GB, age 20)

Where they finished last season: Saintz – 6th, Norris – 11th, Constructors – 4th

What’s new: For a starters, it’s orange, very orange, possibly more orange than it’s ever been. McLaren are hoping to build on their success of last year, which saw them end fourth in the constructor’s championship. It’ll be their last car with a Renault engine before switching back to Mercedes in 2021 and they are aiming to lead the midfield battle once again, and perhaps go one better.

RENAULT (France)

Renualt have said their new R.S.20 car will be in full team colours for the start of the new season, having started testing with a stealthy all-black livery

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Renault drivers Daniel Ricciardo and newcomer Esteban Ocon

@RenaultF1Team on Twitter

Drivers: Daniel Ricciardo (Australia, age 30), Esteban Ocon (France, age 23)

Where they finished last season: Ricciardo – 9th, Ocon – N/A, Constructors – 5th

What’s new: After a disappointing performance in 2019, Renault have completely resigned their entire front end, which has a quite aggressively dipped nose, which they hope will sort out a lot of the problems which ultimately held them back last year. They also have a new driver in Ocon, the team’s former reserve driver, who returns after stints with Manor Racing and Force India to replace Nico Hulkenberg.

ALPHATAURI – formerly Toro Rosso (Italy)

The all-new AlphaTauri AT01 is one of the best looking cars on the track this year

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AlphaTauri drivers Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat

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Drivers: Pierre Gasly (France, age 24), Daniil Kvyat (Russia, age 24)

Where they finished last season: Gasly – 7th, Kvyat – 13th, Constructors – 6th

What’s new: The only team change in the off-season saw Red Bull’s sister team get a rebrand. It’s the same line-up, just with a new name and livery design which, with a mix of metallic and matte finishes, is one of the best-looking out there this season. Given the fact it’s now based on Red Bull’s fashion house, that’s not a surprise.

RACING POINT (Great Britain)

Racing Point’s new RP20 car boasts a candyfloss-pink livery. Delicious.


Racing Point drivers Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez


Drivers: Sergio Perez (Mexico, age 30), Lance Stroll (Canada, 21)

Where they finished last season: Perez – 10th, Stroll – 15th, Constructors – 7th

What’s new: The British team only unveiled their new car a week ago, and already they’ve been forced to defend its design, amid accusations of ripping off Mercedes.To be fair, they do look very similar, especially the nose and, well, the entire front end but for the pink livery. But technical director Andrew Green has insisted the car was ‘absolutely, categorically designed from scratch’, although in the same breath admitted the designs were ‘drawn from looking at pictures of Mercedes’. Hmm. Also, from 2021 the team will be rebranded ‘Aston Martin’, so will be hoping to make that transition as the ‘best of the rest’ in a competitive midfield this term.

ALFA ROMEO (Switzerland)

Raikkonen could become the most experienced F1 driver in history in the Alfa Romeo’s C39 this season

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Alfa Romeo drivers Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen

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Drivers: Kimi Raikkonen (Finland, age 40), Antonio Giovinazzi (Italy, age 26)

Where they finished last season: Raikkonen – 12th, Giovinazzi – 17th, Constructors – 8th

What’s new: Not a lot, apparently. F1 veteran Raikkonen, who could break Rubens Barrichello’s record for Grand Prix starts this season, has been very frank about the size of the team and their limited resources compared to the pack, and said they will basically do the best they can after ‘learning lessons’ from last season’s poor campaign. “It’s obviously not as big a team as where I used to be,” said the ex-Ferrari man. “We know we have some areas where we can’t match the big teams but we try to do the best with what we have. We can learn from last year’s difficulties and hopefully we don’t repeat it this year.” Wow, calm down, Kimi…

HAAS F1 (United States)

Haas F1’s new VF-20 marks a return to their original colours

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Haas F1 drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean

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Drivers: Romain Grosjean (France, age 33), Kevin Magnussen (Denmark, age 27)

Where they finished last year: Grosjean – 18th, Magnussen – 16th, Constructors – 9th

What’s new: The American team were the first to reveal their new car this winter, with the VF-20 dumping the gold that adored their cars last season and returning to their original colours of grey, red and black. Haas say they have learned from what was a dreadful campaign last year, following up their fifth place finish in 2018 by coming second-last. Grosjean even seem the car was ‘not even good enough for a museum’. The VF-20 features no radical changes from their previous machine, but the team hope to have addressed all the issues that made Grosjean so grumpy. Only time will tell if it works.

WILLIAMS (Great Britian)

Williams’ new FW43 car for the 2020 season

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Wailliams F! drivers George Russell and Nicholas Latifi


Drivers: George Russell (GB, age 22), Nicholas Latifi (Canada, age 24)

Where they finished last season: Russell – 20th, Latifi – N/A, Constructors – 10th

What’s new: Another driver change has seen Williams sign Latifi as a replacement for Robert Kubica, who joined Alfa Romeo as a reserve driver. Latifi is making his debut in F1 after finishing as runner-up in the 2019 Formula 2 championship.


Max Verstappen pipped his old karting rival Charles Leclerc to 1st place in the Austrian GP last season

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Leclerc vs Verstappen: While Leclerc has team-mate Vettel to face in a battle for Red Bull supremacy, and all the alpha drivers will be looking to have a crack at Hamilton, of course, the Frenchman has another familiar rival this year which could make for an intriguing watch. F1 fans will be eagerly awaiting the next edition of Leclerc’s rivalry with Red Bull’s Verstappen, with the 2019 season the first time the old adversaries battled on the track since their karting days together. They didn’t disappoint, with both drivers enjoying success and multiple wins, while there were real flashlights in Silverstone, Japan and Austria. Fans will be hoping for more of the same as they get another look at the men who look set to control the sport for the next decade.


Bizarrely, this could also be a season dominate by ‘transfer gossip’, with a number of big drivers up for grabs with their contracts coming to an end.

Leclerc and Verstappen – two future F1 superstars – signed new deals with their teams over the winter break, but Hamilton, Vettel and Ricciardo are all out of contract in 2021.

Gossip has already been rampant, and there has been talk of Lewis making the switch to Ferrari as Vettel’s replacement.

Going into the new campaign, the futures of those drivers are still massively up in the air – could the speculation affect their performances on the track? We can only wait and see…


  • Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 4/6
  • Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – 11/2
  • Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 6/1
  • Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) – 10/1
  • Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 15/2
  • Alexander Albon (Red Bull) – 125/1
  • Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) – 1000/1
  • Carlos Sainz (McLaren) – 1000/1
  • Sergio Perez – 1000/1
  • Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) – 1500/1

*From – correct at time of writing

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Source: Motorsport

President Donald Trump leads prayers for NASCAR driver Ryan Newman who is in serious condition after huge Daytona 500 crash

NASCAR confirmed Ryan Newman is not in a life-threatening condition after a huge crash at the Daytona 500 event.

Newman was leading the final lap of the famous race when his car flipped, spinning several times and scraping along the track upside down while on fire.

The 42-year-old was quickly seen to on the track, before being taken to Halifax Medical Centre.

It was later confirmed by NASCAR that Newman’s injuries are not life-threatening, though he was reported to be in a serious condition.

“Ryan Newman is being treated at Halifax Medical Center,” read a Roush Fenway Racing statement. “He is in serious condition, but doctors have indicated his injuries are not life threatening.”

President Donald Trump, whose Air Force One landed at Daytona the previous day to take in the action, tweeted to say he was praying for Newman.

Trump’s plane landed by the track ahead of the opening of Daytona

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The president then completed a ceremonial lap in his armoured limousine to open the Daytona 500 in Florida and told the crowd there was ‘no greater thrill’ than to be at the event

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Denny Hamlin won the race after Newman’s final-lap crash, and he said he was ‘praying for the best’ for ‘tough guy’ Newman during his post-race media duties.

He was initially criticised for wildly celebrating his win with a series of doughnuts in the infield just moments after Newman’s crash and with his condition unknown.

Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing team late apologised for the celebrations.

Newman is in his 19th full season with NASCAR and previously won the Daytona 500 in 2008.

Source: Motorsport

Formula 1: Chinese Grand Prix postponed due to coronavirus epidemic

Formula 1’s 2020 Chinese Grand Prix has been postponed following the outbreak of coronavirus, the sport’s governing body has announced.

The disease, named Covid-19, has claimed over 1,100 lives in China and it has been decided that the race, originally scheduled to take place in Shanghai on April 19, can no longer go ahead as planned.

The F1 race becomes the latest sporting event to be cancelled in China.

The coronavirus death toll has now surpassed 1,100

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Motorsport’s governing body the FIA said it had accepted a request from the promoter of the Chinese race to postpone the event.

An FIA statement read: “In view of the continued spread of novel coronavirus and after ongoing discussions with the Federation of Automobile and Motorcycle Sports of People’s Republic of China (CAMF) and Shanghai Administration of Sports, the Chinese Grand Prix Promoter, Juss Sports Group, has officially requested that the 2020 FIA Formula One Chinese Grand Prix be postponed.

“The FIA, together with Formula One, have have jointly decided to accept this official request from the promoter and postpone the 2020 FIA Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix, originally scheduled for 19 April.

“As a result of continued health concerns and with the World Health Organisation declaring the coronavirus as a global health emergency, the FIA and Formula One have taken these measures in order to ensure the health and safety of the travelling staff, championship participants and fans, which remains of primary concern.”

2020 Formula One calendar

  • March 15 – Australian Grand Prix
  • March 22 – Bahrain Grand Prix
  • April 5 – Vietnamese Grand Prix
  • April 19 – Chinese Grand Prix (postponed)
  • May 3 – Dutch Grand Prix
  • May 10 – Spanish Grand Prix
  • May 24 – Monaco Grand Prix
  • June 7 – Azerbaijan Grand Prix
  • June 14 – Canadian Grand Prix
  • June 28 – French Grand Prix
  • July 5 – Austrian Grand Prix
  • July 19 – British Grand Prix
  • August 2 – Hungarian Grand Prix
  • August 30 – Belgian Grand Prix
  • September 6 – Italian Grand Prix
  • September 20 – Singapore Grand Prix
  • September 27 – Russian Grand Prix
  • October 11 – Japanese Grand Prix
  • October 25 – United States Grand Prix
  • November 1 – Mexico City Grand Prix
  • November 15 – Brazilian Grand Prix
  • November 29 – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Source: Motorsport

Lewis Hamilton teases picture of 2020 helmet as Mercedes could make six-time world champion wealthiest Formula 1 driver ever

Lewis Hamilton has shown a glimpse of his helmet for the 2020 Formula One season as he prepares for contract talks with Mercedes.

Shortly after the Brackley based team unveiled their livery for the new season featuring the logo of new sponsors Ineos, Hamilton shared a photo on Instagram of his possible helmet.

An image of the Christ the Redeemer statue can be seen on the helmet, which features a purple and pink trim with Hamilton asking fans to vote on the colour scheme.

Hamilton teased his new helmet design on Instagram

Whichever helmet Hamilton chooses for the 2020 season could be the final one he wears as a Mercedes driver, as he is out of contract at the end of the year and has been linked with a shock switch to Ferrari.

However, Mercedes are ready to break the bank to make the six-time world champion the wealthiest Formula 1 driver in history.

It has been suggested his next contract, one which might prove to be his last in the sport, could earn him closer to a staggering £60million-per-year – a £20m-per-year rise on his current deal.

The eye-watering sums play against the backdrop of Mercedes’ parent company, Daimler, reportedly preparing to axe as many as 15,000 jobs.

Mercedes CEO and team principal Toto Wolff, who revealed he has not spoken to his star driver for two months, said: “You need to respect that a sporting superstar at the peak of his ability, and at the peak of his career, has a limited lifespan where he is able to earn this kind of super money.

Hamilton is aiming to win a record-equalling seventh world championship this season

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“We do respect that and we respect the contribution that Lewis brings to Mercedes both on and off the track.

“Equally, Lewis has always respected that we are Mercedes and there are certain financial realities that are important to us.

“The money side has never been a sticking point [in previous contracts]. It was more about freedom and his projects.

“We need to look at what makes him perform best. We want the best guy on qualifying on Saturday and in the race on Sunday and that will always be my main focus.”

Hamilton will get the first taste of the Mercedes he hopes will fire him to a record-equalling seventh world title during a behind-closed-doors event at Silverstone on Friday.

Mercedes unveiled their new livery on last year’s W10, with their 2020 car to be revealed on February 14

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Mercedes’ agreement with Ineos means the petrochemicals giant’s logo is on the 2020 livery

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Like Hamilton, Mercedes’ future is also uncertain, with the German manufacturer yet to formally commit to the sport beyond this year.

“We like the Formula One platform but at the same time we are in negotiation with the rights’ holder, and things need to be sorted out,” said Wolff.

“It is an ongoing process with a complicated set of contracts and that takes time. The devil is in the detail.”

Mercedes’ rivals Ferrari launch their new car in Italy on Tuesday, ahead of the first winter test in Barcelona next week. The season starts in Melbourne on March 15.

Source: Motorsport

Mercedes unveil 2020 livery adding red to silver as Toto Wolff provides Lewis Hamilton contract update

Mercedes revealed their livery for the 2020 Formula One season adding red to their famous silver following the announcement of a new partnership with Ineos.

The petrochemicals giant have agreed a five-year deal with the reigning F1 world champions, with their branding highlighted red on the airbox and front wing.

Mercedes’ agreement with Ineos was announced on Monday

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The partnership means red is introduced to Mercedes’ 2020 livery

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The rest of the design is traditional Mercedes, relying on silver, green and black – aside from one small area.

The red star, added to the vehicle upon Niki Lauda’s death last May in the former world champion’s memory, remains, surrounded by the traditional silver stars on the engine cover.

The livery was displayed on last years W10, with Mercedes’ 2020 car to be unveiled on February 14

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff spoke at the unveiling and said keeping Lewis Hamilton ‘is the obvious pairing going forward’ despite doubts over the six-time world champion’s future.

The Brackley based team are still yet to commit to the 2021 season and talks are ongoing over a number of disagreements with racing authorities, but perhaps an even more pressing concern will be getting Hamilton to sign a contract extension.

The 35-year-old is out of contract at the end of the year and he’s been linked with a shock switch to Ferrari as he seeks to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of winning seven world championships.

“It is the obvious pairing going forward,” said Wolff of Hamilton. “We would like to have the fastest man in the fastest car and I know Lewis wants to be in the fastest car.”

Wolff then revealed he has not spoken to Hamilton since the team’s Christmas party last December.

“We travel for 10 months of the year and what we do over the winter is that we leave each other in peace,” he added.

Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes future is still in doubt

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“We said we would continue our discussions when he is back from America and we have kicked off the season.

“Lewis has proven he is the best current driver, and on the mid and long term, I would hope we can continue to provide technology to the best driver.”

Mercedes unveiled the new livery on their 2019 W10, with their 2020 car to be seen for the first time on Friday when it takes to the track at Silverstone.

Pre-season testing then begins in Barcelona five days later.

Source: Motorsport

Formula One: Fears Chinese Grand Prix could be cancelled due to coronavirus epidemic

The Chinese Grand Prix could be CANCELLED this year following the coronavirus outbreak.

The Shanghai Sports Federation has increased doubts over the April race by recommending all sports events be cancelled until the epidemic ‘is over’.

The latest figures from the Chinese Health Commission say that approaching 25,000 people have been infected, resulting in a death toll of over 500, while 15 sports events have so far been either cancelled or postponed.

The coronavirus epidemic has already claimed over 500 victims

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The most prominent has been the World Athletics Championships that were scheduled for Nanjing in mid-March.

Furthermore, the Chinese Football Association has put on hold all domestic matches, while Formula E also cancelled its race in Sanya that was due to take place on March 21.

The spotlight is now on the fourth event of Formula One’s record-breaking 22-race calendar this year at the Shanghai International Circuit on April 17-19.

Guidelines issued in a statement by the Shanghai Sports Federation declares that it will ‘strictly implement the requirement that the municipal sports bureau no longer organise events during the epidemic’ and to ‘suspend all sports events until the epidemic is over’.

The ball is now in the court of the race promoter Juss Event Management, F1’s rights holders Liberty Media and motorsport’s world governing body, the FIA, with the latter issuing a statement last week saying it was monitoring the situation.

Although the race in Shanghai is still over nine weeks away, pressure will be mounting on all sides to make a decision, with the remarks from the Shanghai Sports Federation adding to the urgency of the matter.

Novak Djokovic wins record-breaking eighth Australian Open title after dramatic comeback against Dominic Thiem at Rod Laver Arena

Dominic Thiem fell agonisingly short as Novak Djokovic continued the old guard’s dominance by winning an eighth Australian Open title.

It extends the Melbourne record he set last year, while Djokovic becomes the first man in the Open era to win slam titles across three decades.

But for much of this contest it appeared Thiem, who defeated Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals, would be the first of the younger generation to claim a slam title.

Djokovic becomes the first man in the Open era to win slam titles across three decades.

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Novak Djokovic consoles Dominic Thiem after his comeback win at the Australian Open

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The 26-year-old Austrian led by two sets to one against an out-of-sorts Djokovic only for the Serbian to fight back and claim a 6-4 4-6 2-6 6-3 6-4 victory.

Djokovic, who remains unbeaten in finals on Rod Laver Arena, now has 17 slam titles, only three short of record holder Roger Federer, and will reclaim the world number one ranking from Nadal on Monday.

The trio have won the last 13 slams between them but, after Daniil Medvedev pushed Nadal to five sets in the US Open final, there is no doubt they are having to fight harder to keep the door shut.

The surprise was not so much that Thiem came close – he has been the consistent improver of men’s tennis over the last few years, while he had won four of his previous five matches against Djokovic – but that the defending champion played such a patchy match.

The 26-year-old Austrian led by two sets to one against an out-of-sorts Djokovic only for the Serbian to fight back and claim victory.

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The 32-year-old lost his cool in the ninth game of the second set after being given back-to-back time violations, the second of which resulted in him being penalised a first serve and then broken.

On the way back to his seat he tapped umpire Damien Dumusois on the foot, saying: “You’ve made yourself famous, well done.”

It was the start of a six-game winning run for Thiem, twice a runner-up to Nadal at the French Open, that left him 4-0 up in the third set, and one game later Djokovic again called for the doctor.

He had taken a pill after the first set of his victory over Federer in the semi-finals, which had been rather forgotten amid the focus on the Swiss’ physical struggles.

Djokovic made a patronising comment to the umpire during a patchy performance

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Djokovic sat with head bowed and shoulders slumped but he showed signs of life at the end of the third and a break point saved in the third game of the fourth set was a crucial moment.

Just how crucial became clear as he steadied himself, found his serve again and broke through to send the match to a decider.

The odds swung firmly back in favour of the man who has been here so many times before, and he had one hand on the trophy when he broke to lead 2-1.

Thiem fought valiantly to stay within touching distance but Djokovic was nerveless serving it out, pointing his fingers to the sky in triumph.

The irrepressible Serb claimed his eighth Australian Open title

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Djokovic had played one of the finest matches of his career to beat Nadal in the final here 12 months ago, utterly crushing his great rival, and he started in a similar vein.

Thiem had to hang on by his fingernails just to stay within one break, but hang on he did and he took advantage when Djokovic came down from the mountaintop in the seventh game.

The opening set still went the way of the Serbian, though, after Thiem double-faulted on set point.

The Austrian had spoken in the build-up about having to tread a fine line between aggression and recklessness, and he was not always getting it right, particularly on his backhand down the line.

Youngster Sofia Kenin stuns Garbine Muguruza to claim first Grand Slam title with Australian Open triumph

Tennis celebrated another brilliant young female star in Melbourne as 21-year-old Sofia Kenin defeated Garbine Muguruza to win the Australian Open title.

Following in the footsteps of Naomi Osaka, Ashleigh Barty and Bianca Andreescu, American Kenin produced a brilliant performance in her first grand slam final, coming from a set down to win 4-6 6-2 6-2.

Kenin overcame Muguruza in Melbourne

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A child prodigy who had remained surprisingly under the radar despite beating Serena Williams at the French Open last year, Kenin has quickly built a reputation for intelligence and feistiness.

She appeared to relish being booed by the crowd during that victory over Williams in Paris, and greeted the biggest moments in this match as if she was insulted by them.

The five points she played to hold serve from 0-40 at 2-2 in the deciding set were not just the key to the match but a demonstration of a very special talent and mentality.

Kenin’s father and coach, Alex, who moved the family to America from Russia when his daughter was a baby to give her a better life, could barely watch as the finish line approached.