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    ‘It was exhausting’ – Lewis Hamilton’s rivalry with Valtteri Bottas drove Mercedes star to the edge

    VALTERRI BOTTAS has opened up about the five seasons he spent as Lewis Hamilton’s team-mate at Mercedes. The Finnish driver admitted he found the desperation to beat the seven-time world champion to a title “exhausting”.
    Valterri Bottas has conceded that competing with Lewis Hamilton was toughCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    Bottas, 33, joined Mercedes for the 2017 season to replace Nico Rosberg, who retired after beating Hamilton a year earlier.
    The driver, now with Alfa Romeo, finished second and third two times each in the F1 standings behind Hamilton.
    He told journalist Maria Veitola it was tough to come to terms with the fact the Brit was better than him.
    Bottas said: “For such a competitive nature, it was hard to accept.
    “It was only in the last year that I could accept that Lewis Hamilton was a better driver.
    “I always wondered how I could beat him and win the world championship.
    “It was quite an exhausting five years. I wanted to win everything right away, and then when it didn’t happen, it was hard to accept.”
    Mercedes chief Toto Wolff previously said he thought it was correct to let Bottas go at the end of the 2021 season.
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    Wolff said: “I think that it was a good moment for Valtteri to leave the team because the pressure was enormous on him and he didn’t want to be a wingman.
    “I think having released him from that pressure, now he’s racing with Alfa, it is completely different and he seems also happier rather than this pressure cooker at Mercedes.”
    Bottas also recently opened up about suffering with an eating disorder earlier in his career.
    He was in a slower car last season with the Italian constructors and finished 10th in last term’s standings.
    Hamilton is now partnered by George Russell at Mercedes. More

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    Incredible moment rally driver crashes after female fan flashes boobs during race as racer admits he was ‘distracted’

    A RALLY driver has incredibly revealed he crashed after being “distracted” by a female fan who FLASHED her boobs during a race.Viktor Osmanov was driving for Tula in the Petrovskaya Versta competition when the incident occurred.
    The rally car fan pulled her top up and flashed the Russian driver
    The boob flash drew laughs from the nearby crowd
    Viktor Osmanov was driving for Tula in the Petrovskaya Versta competition when he got distracted, losing vital seconds
    The rally driver was gunning for a first-placed finish but lost concentration during the Russian rally in Rostov when a female fan lifted her top.
    Footage shows the woman lifting her T-shirt over her head, exposing her bra.
    Osmanov then incredibly drove into a snowy ditch.
    Spectators laughed – but the stunt cost the Tula team a higher finish.
    The lost seconds saw Tula finished third, instead of second, taken by Yaroslavl, or even first, where Moscow finished.
    Lada Samara-driving Osmanov confessed: “This one was unexpected.
    “I saw her and I failed to turn my corner.
    “If she had only come up later, we would have laughed together. But no-one took offence at her.”
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    The motorsport driver also admitted that fans flashing at rallies is common.
    Osmanov continued: “Such tricks are often made by fans.
    “I’ve seen naked men and girls waving their bras.”
    Viktor Osmanov (right) says fans often pull flashing stuntsCredit: Instagram More

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    ‘We can get better’ – Max Verstappen fires warning to F1 rival Lewis Hamilton as they prepare to battle it out again

    MAX VERSTAPPEN is ready to lock horns again with Lewis Hamilton after Red Bull launched their new car for the upcoming F1 season.The world champions have also announced an engine partnership with Ford, which will start in 2026.
    Max Verstappen has warned Lewis Hamilton he intends to win another F1 title this yearCredit: Getty
    Verstappen beat Hamilton to the title in 2021 in controversial circumstances before defending his crown last season, and says he has no hard feelings towards the Brit.
    When quizzed if he was hopeful of another exciting F1 battle with Hamilton, he said: “In the interests of the sport, you always want the teams to be super close.
    “I do think that it was already quite close last year but as a team we executed a lot of things better than the others. That’s why I guess the points gap was so big.
    “I would still say we can do better, because in qualifying most of the time we were not even the quickest car.
    “But for the sport, you know the general interest of course, everyone wants to have a title battle with multiple teams involved.
    “And I have no issue with anyone. I mean, all the drivers also had that dinner in Abu Dhabi. We had a laugh with everyone, we all had a good time, so that’s all okay.”
    Ford’s return to F1 after more that 22 years is a big boost to Red Bull and will provide expertise and resource as the Milton Keynes team build their own engines from 2026.
    Red Bull boss Christian Horner added: “We looked strategically at what would be the best partnership for 2026 onwards.
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    “We’ve enjoyed an incredible relationship with Honda and that relationship runs for the next three years.
    “But as we bought the power unit in house, producing and designing the power unit within Milton Keynes, it is important to align ourselves with an original equipment manufacturer that was going to support and complement that.
    “It was a very swift discussion. Their objectives were very similar to ours. 
    “They’re obviously looking to come back into Formula One, investing massively in the electric vehicle side of the business, and so that gives us the ability to draw on their expertise.” More

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    Max Verstappen opens up on Netflix U-turn as F1 champ is set to star in Drive to Survive

    FORMULA ONE champion Max Verstappen decided to appear on Netflix’s Drive to Survive series after holding talks with producers.Verstappen will star in the fifth season, which will be released on February 24 and will focus on the star’s dominant 2022 season.
    Max Verstappen will star on Netflix’s new season Drive to SurviveCredit: AP
    Max Verstappen held talks with Netflix bosses before changing his mindCredit: Reuters
    The Dutch star previously refused to participate in the filming because he claimed it gives a false portrayal of what goes on behind the scenes in F1.
    However, the 25-year-old held talks with the creators and was satisfied with how they addressed his concerns before making his U-turn.
    Verstappen said: “I always wanted to be part of it but said it needs to be a realistic image of how I am.
    “That’s why we needed to talk about it first and they understood my side of it, and I understand in general that when you create a show there needs to be drama and it needs to be exciting.
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    “But I’m a guy who thinks it’s also important that you are portrayed well, and not start to have comments put under different footage, when it didn’t happen like that.
    “So I explained that was my view and that otherwise I didn’t want to be a part of it.
    “They understood, so we’ll see once it comes out what they made of it.
    “But I’m positive, of course, because I know it’s important for Formula 1.
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    “I just focus on my job and I know the media is a part of it. You deal with it and grow up as a person, in racing and in life personally.
    “When that happens, you can probably deal with stuff easier than five or six years ago.”
    The new season will air on Netflix just before the Bahrain Grand Prix, which will open the 2023 season. More

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    Watch reporter get F1 star Daniel Ricciardo’s name horribly wrong at Red Bull car launch

    A RED BULL launch took place in New York last night ahead of the 2023 Formula One season.But co-host Giselle Zarur was left with egg on her face after she pronounced Daniel Ricciardo’s name horribly wrong live on Sky Sports.
    Giselle Zarur mispronounced Daniel Ricciardo’s name live on Sky SportsCredit: Twitter
    With the Aussie standing there ready to be interviewed, she welcomed him to his new team.
    But Giselle made an almighty error.
    She said: “Welcome one of the friendliest drivers in the F1 grid, Daniel Retardo, to Oracle Reb Bull Racing.”
    Giselle didn’t realise her mistake, while Ricciardo stood there awkwardly as she continued to speak.
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    And fans on social media couldn’t believe what they were hearing.
    One said: “I was wondering who else noticed that🙈.”
    A second said: “Just terrible.”
    A third chimed in with: “The announcer just called Danny Ric Daniel Retardo I can’t 😭 #RB19.”
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    Another said: “She really just called him Daniel Retardo…. 🏎️.”
    The new F1 season gets underway in just under a month with the Bahrain Grand Prix getting things up and running in early March.
    Riccardo is Red Bull’s new signing after joining from McLaren.
    And he’ll compete alongside Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez as Red Bull look to retain their Constructors’ Championship standings title following their comfortable victory in 2022. More

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    Specsavers joins fans in brutally trolling Red Bull as F1 champions reveal Max Verstappen’s new car for 2023 season

    SPECSAVERS joined F1 fans in poking fun at Red Bull after the world champions unveiled their new car. Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez will take to the track in the new RB19 later this month as Formula One returns for pre-season testing.
    The RB19 car was unveiled in all its glory today – but fans got a sense of deja vuCredit: AFP
    Specsavers summed up the feelings of many underwhelmed race fans
    Fans were quick to use a meme from the US Office to compare Red Bull’s 2022 and 2023 car designs
    But motorsport fans could not help but notice the striking resemblance that the Red Bull’s ‘new’ livery had to last year’s design, despite a huge online build-up by the drinks brand.
    Keeping with tradition, the manufacturers did not tweak much on the colour template with dark blue covering most of the car.
    Specsavers were among the first to point out the similarities as fans jokingly reflected on Red Bull’s predictable design after their launch today in America.
    One said: “For some reason, I dream of a new livery every year, and ever year I’m let down.”
    Another said: “Massive credit to the designers, really pushed the boat out this year.”
    And a third fan said: “Social media manager uploaded the 2022 car.”
    While the reveal may have been underwhelming for some fans, there was some more notable aspects of the announcement.
    Red Bull became the first F1 team to launch a car in the US, with American race fans getting a chance to glimpse two-time world champion Verstappen.
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    The constructors also announced that they will be running a competition for fans to design a special livery for the three US races – Miami, Austin and Las Vegas – on the calendar this year.
    Red Bull and Verstappen ran away with the championship last year but fans will be hoping competition will be closer this season.
    Ferrari have made changes to their heavily-criticised operation while Mercedes will hope to improve on last year’s imperfect car. More

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    Ford confirms return to F1 in 2026 after 22-year absence as motorsport giants prepare for new era of engines

    FORD have confirmed their intentions to return to Formula One. The American Car manufacturer has been absent from the motorsport since 2004, but have now reignited their interest to be a part of F1 from 2026.
    Ford has confirmed its intention to return to Formula OneCredit: Ford
    The grid is set to be boosted by two new teams by 2026Credit: Splash
    Company chief Bill Ford said: “This is the start of a thrilling new chapter in Ford’s motorsports story that began when my great-grandfather [Henry Ford] won a race that helped launch our company.
    “Ford is returning to the pinnacle of the sport, bringing Ford’s long tradition of innovation, sustainability and electrification to one of the world’s most visible stages.”
    The move comes just one day after governing body, the FIA, announced plans to allow would-be newcomers to launch applications to join.
    The FIA’s declaration came with stipulations on meeting F1’s sustainability target of Net Zero Carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, which also referred to any newcomers needing to be “competitive” throughout.
     F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali also welcomed the news, saying: “The news today that Ford is coming to Formula 1 from 2026 is great for the sport and we are excited to see them join the incredible automotive partners already in Formula 1.
    “Ford is a global brand with an incredible heritage in racing and the automotive world and they see the huge value that our platform provides with over half a billion fans around the world.
    “Our commitment to be Net Zero Carbon by 2030 and to introduce sustainable fuels in the F1 cars from 2026 is also an important reason for their decision to enter F1.
    “We believe that our sport provides the opportunity and reach unlike any other and we cannot wait for the Ford logo to be racing round F1’s iconic circuits from 2026.”
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    Ford’s announcement just one day after shows there is a genuine interest in joining F1 going into the new engine era of 2026.
    There will be a maximum of two new teams who can join in 2026, with the grid capped at 12 teams, consequently also raising the driver limit to 24 rather than the 20 currently involved.
    F1 has grown massively in recent years, with owners Liberty Media rejecting an astronomical Saudi Arabian bid of £16BILLION to buy the rights.
    Ford’s history with F1 stretches back to the 1960s with the Double Four Valve engine, which was built alongside British engineering firm Cosworth.
    That engine was one of the most successful of its era, winning 155 races from a possible 262 from 1967 to 1985.

    They later powered Michael Schumacher and Benetton to a championship in 1994, and have played a part in 23 drivers and constructors titles in total to make them the third most successful engine manufacturer in F1 history.
    Ford ended their last stint in F1 in 2004 when it pulled the plug on Jaguar and its badging of Cosworth engines.
    Ford’s motorsport presence has also been seen in the big screen with the 2019 movie Ford vs Ferrari, which depicts Ford rivalling Enzo Ferrari at the famous Le Mans 24-hour endurance race.
    While Ford’s intentions to return are now clear, the capacity of the venture remains shrouded in doubt.
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    Ahead of their 2023 season car launch Red Bull have been linked with becoming engine partners with Ford.
    Other major manufacturers have also expressed interest in joining F1, including Porsche and Audi. More

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    Red Bull boss Christian Horner reveals dream of NEW YORK Grand Prix as F1 takes off in USA after Las Vegas & Miami races

    RED BULL boss Christian Horner admits he is dreaming of another Grand Prix in America… this time in New York City.Formula One has taken off across the States in recent years, with the nation becoming obsessed with smash Netflix hit Drive to Survive.
    Christian Horner hopes to see the US host another Grand PrixCredit: Reuters
    The Red Bull boss dreams of seeing F1 cars whipping around New York cityCredit: Getty
    Fans tuned in to May’s Miami GP as Max Verstappen sealed victory while surrounded by celebs including Michael Jordan, Tom Brady and Matt Damon.
    And supporters were on tenterhooks as Lewis Hamilton dramatically missed out at October’s USA GP in Austin, Texas.
    F1 continues to be a smash hit across the border too, with Montreal playing host to a thrilling Canadian GP last summer.
    But the best is yet to come for those across the Atlantic.
    That’s because Las Vegas will host a stunning race later this year, with drivers zooming past iconic gambling establishments like the Bellagio and Caesar’s Palace.
    However, Red Bull chief Horner is eager to continue F1’s relentless march across America.
    He hopes to see more big cities play host to the likes of Verstappen, Hamilton and Charles Leclerc.
    And Horner admits he dreams of cars doing laps of the Big Apple itself, New York City.
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    Horner told the Mail: “It would be amazing. Racing in big cities in the US is really exciting.
    “A race here in the Big Apple, for example, what a spectacle that would be.
    “You can never say never. We’ve got other North American races as well with Montreal, and there’s certainly demand for it, so why not?
    “It’s great that there’s that much interest in Formula One in the US.
    “We’re fortunate to race in great venues, whether it’s the street circuit of Miami or the track in Austin.
    “Vegas this year is going to be an absolutely insane event too.” More