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    Champagne axed from podium ahead of new F1 season and replaced with Italian sparkling wine called FERRARI

    FERRARI are guaranteed to be on the podium at EVERY F1 race this season.
    But before you believe the Italian team have produced a rocket-ship of a car – think again.

    F1 drivers traditionally celebrate by spraying each other with the bubbly stuffCredit: AFP or licensors

    A sparkling wine called Ferrari Trento will be on the podiums this year

    F1 bosses have struck a deal with an Italian sparkling wine producer called Ferrari Trento to be the “official toast of Formula One celebrations”.
    It means Ferrari, rather than Champagne, will be served on the podium at the end of F1 races – even if Charles Leclerc or Carlos Sainz don’t make the top three.
    The F1 podium ceremony has traditionally used Champagne but it has not always used plonk from the French region.
    After several decades of using Moet and Mumm champagne after races, sparkling wine producer Chandon was used on the podium from the start of 2016.

    But during the 2017 season, F1 did a deal with champagne producer Carbon while non alcoholic rose water is served on podiums where booze is banned.
    F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali said he no problems seeing the sport was breaking from tradition.
    Asked why the sport had decided on the switch, he said: “The answer is very simple: it is the quality of the product and the quality of the company. This is the reason why our relationship has developed.”
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    The start of the 2021 season is rapidly coming into view.
    Yesterday, Mercedes unveiled their new car – the W12 – that they hope will propel Lewis Hamilton to a record breaking eighth world title.
    The reigning champion spoke yesterday about his future, dropping a fresh hint that this season could be his last.
    The British superstar says the most important factor in continuing behind the wheel beyond 2021 will be whether he is happy.
    The first Grand Prix of the year is in Bahrain at the end of this month.

    Lewis Hamilton took a soaking last yearCredit: Splash News

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    Lewis Hamilton wants to see if he is still smiling behind wheel at end of season before deciding F1 future

    LEWIS HAMILTON says he still wants to see if he’s smiling behind the wheel before deciding his F1 future.
    Last month, the world champion signed a 10-month deal with Mercedes when it was widely expected that he would sign a multi-year contract.

    Lewis Hamilton is determined to keep enjoying himselfCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    It has raised serious questions over whether he will retire at the end of the current season.
    The 36-year-old is going in search of an eighth world title that would move him clear of the joint record he currently shares with Michael Schumacher.
    But he says that whether he wins the title this year – or not – it will not be his sole motivation for staying in the sport for a 16th season.
    When quizzed about 2022, Hamilton said: “I have decided. I don’t want that [championships] to be the deciding factor.

    “I got into racing because I loved it and that’s got to always be at the core of what you do.
    “If all you’re going for is accolades, I feel I could potentially lose my way. Of course it is the ultimate dream but I don’t think it is not going to be the deciding factor whether I stay or keep going; it is more whether then I still have the smile when I leave the garage.
    “It is going back to: ‘Do you enjoy it?’ Last year was a really tough year for everyone, including me, but there were some really impactful moments.
    “Will that be the case this year? We’ll see. Will I enjoy it as much, we’ll see. I am excited now, so I am sure I will.

    Lewis Hamilton is F1’s biggest earner
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    “I’m fully invested in this season and delivering. I still love what I do.
    “I’m in the fortunate position that I don’t have to commit to multiple years so I chose to have a one-year deal then I could see how the year goes, where we’re at mid-year or towards the end of the year. Who knows whether we’ll still be in a pandemic.
    “But it doesn’t mean that I’m not still committed very much to the sport.”
    Hamilton was struck down with COVID-19 towards the end of last season and was forced to miss a race for the first time in his F1 career in Bahrain.
    Speaking at the launch of his new F1 car he says it has taken him time to regain his full fitness.
    He added: “It wasn’t the easiest of breaks. I just kept to myself and was focused on recovery – because it wasn’t a quick situation – and getting myself back to full strength.”
    Mercedes are sticking with a black livery in support of their move to improve diversity while part of Hamilton’s contract saw the formation of a joint charitable foundation for inclusion.
    And while he says that the focus on track is winning races, Hamilton says his main goal this season is not an eighth world title but to continue his quest for change.

    I’m really proud of my team here, I’m already seeing the steps we started taking last year
    Lewis Hamilton

    He said: “I think there was a lot of great discussion around this diversity issue and it still remains an issue to this day and it’s not going to change overnight.
    “But what’s really important is to make sure that we’re actually delivering and actually taking action.
    “I’m really proud of my team here, I’m already seeing the steps we started taking last year, particularly towards the end of the year, I’m starting to see that progress little by little and it just takes one step at a time.
    “So that’s kind of my driving force this year too, to make sure that we continue to push for accountability. And on top of that hopefully I can deliver some good performances.”
    Meanwhile, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff was also quizzed about Hamilton’s future and while he did not rule out a move for Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, said he would be speaking to his own drivers first.

    Max Verstappen is bound to be on everyone’s radar come the end of the seasonCredit: Reuters
    He said: “What we have decided is to discuss things much earlier this year and not at the end of the season.
    “The old system in the relationship we have is that we have a mutual understanding of what we want to do in the future.
    “And that would also be the case with the discussions we have with Lewis going forward.
    “Max is certainly an outstanding young driver who will undoubtedly be on everybody’s radar in the future, but we are not flirting outside before we have a clear understanding with our two drivers.”

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    Lewis Hamilton puts Mercedes future in doubt AGAIN by insisting all he ever wanted was one-year deal ahead of F1 season

    LEWIS HAMILTON has lifted the lid on his Mercedes contract saga saying he only ever wanted a one-year deal.
    The Formula One world champion had stalled on signing a new deal with the Silver Arrows.

    Hamilton has thrown his future at Mercedes in doubt after admitting he only ever wanted a short-term contractCredit: PA:Press Association

    Hamilton was speaking at the launch of Mercedes’ car for the 2021 seasonCredit: PA:Press Association

    And when it was finally confirmed last month, it proved to be a ten-month contract worth £40million.
    It had been expected that the 36-year-old was agreeing terms over a two-year deal.
    But Hamilton says he only wanted a short-term contract.
    It increased speculation that he could retire from F1 at the end of this season in which he is looking to win a stand-alone record eighth world crown.

    Hamilton said: “I am in a fortunate position where I have achieved most of the stuff I have wanted to achieve up to this point.
    “So there is no real need to plan too far ahead in the future.
    “I think we are living in an unusual period of time and you look at life and I just wanted one year.
    “Then, we can talk about if we want to do one more, and then add one if we have to.”

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    Hamilton has claimed he isn’t looking too far into the future at this pointCredit: PA:Press Association

    Hamilton was speaking at the launch of this season’s F1 car and was also quizzed as to the most important aspect of his year ahead.
    But rather than winning the title, Hamilton says what matters more to him is continuing his push for equality.
    He added: “The main priority for 2021… in the past it was just about winning championships but now it is about pushing.
    “Last year there was a lot of discussion about equality and inclusion.
    “There was a lot of talk and so this year it is about pushing for diversity and making sure that action is taken.
    “That is at the core of the drive for me but of course, we exist to win.
    “And that’s what all these guys and girls are working towards at Mercedes.
    “That’s also my goal, to also achieve it for them.”

    Lewis Hamilton is F1’s biggest earner

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    Mercedes release images of Lewis Hamilton’s new F1 2021 car which Brit helped engineers build to go for another title

    MERCEDES have released images of the car they hope will power Lewis Hamilton to a record eighth world title.
    Hamilton, who is currently tied on seven with Michael Schumacher, will be going all out in 2021 to move into a class of his own.

    Mercedes have released their car for the 2021 season as they look to win the Constructors’ Championship for the eighth year in a rowCredit: © Daimler AG

    Fans will see the W12 in action on the opening day of pre-season testing in Bahrain next weekCredit: © Daimler AG

    Lewis Hamilton is hoping the car helps him win a record eighth F1 World ChampionshipCredit: © Daimler AG

    The Brit already has the most wins (95), pole positions (98) and podium finishes (165) in F1 and can now go on to become the undisputed champ.
    He said: “The launch day of a new car is always a really exciting one. It’s great to reveal to the world the result of everyone’s hard work at the factories and to see some of my team-mates in person, which has been so rare during the past year.
    “I’ve been in touch with the engineers through the winter, keeping track of their preparations as I prepare myself for the season ahead.
    “The excitement has been building and building, so now I just can’t wait to get out on track in the W12.”

    The car – or to give it its full title the Mercedes-AMG F1 W12 E Performance – is an evolution of last year’s motor.
    With comparatively few rule changes for this season, there are some notable aerodynamic changes alongside improvements to the suspension, cooling system and Power Unit.
    Merc have again opted for the black base livery remains for a second season, to underline the team’s commitment to improving diversity and inclusion within the team and our sport.
    There is a nod to their Silver Arrows heritage on the engine cover that will also help to reduce engine temperatures, plus a single red three-pointed star to acknowledge the late Niki Lauda, the team’s non-executive chairman.

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    The new F1 season starts with pre-season for the Bahrain GP on Friday, March 12Credit: © Daimler AG

    Mercedes won 13 out of the 17 races in the 2020 season, with Hamilton winning 11 timesCredit: © Daimler AG
    The W12 will complete its first laps on the opening day of pre-season testing in Bahrain, on Friday, March 12.
    Team principal and co-owner Toto Wolff added: “Every year we reset our focus and define the right objectives.
    “That may sound simple but it’s damn hard and is probably why there are no sports teams out there with seven consecutive titles.
    “So many things can happen and it’s very natural to get used to success, and therefore not fight as hard for it.
    “But this team has not shown any of that. I see the same fire, hunger and passion now as I did the first time I walked through the doors in 2013.
    “Every season presents a new challenge and therefore, a new goal for us to achieve.
    “2021 brings changes to the regulations, which could impact our competitiveness, plus the cost cap and working on the major rule changes of 2022. These challenges excite us.”

    Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas has finished each of the last two seasons in second placeCredit: © Daimler AG

    Team principal Toto Wolff has backed Hamilton and Bottas to succeed in 2021Credit: © Daimler AG
    The largest development is the aerodynamic regulations, with the introduction of several significant changes to key performance areas on the car.
    However, the introduction of the new cost cap this year, to limit team’s spending to $145million (£104m) means Mercedes have also set up their own Applied Science division.
    Wolff added: “We had to change the structure of our team, the way we work with each other, streamline our processes and become more efficient.
    “We fundamentally believe that the more efficient we are, the more performance gain that will translate to out on the circuit.
    “So, it’s had a huge impact, but it has also provided us with the opportunity to re-evaluate our organisation.
    “That’s why we set up Applied Science, bringing F1 know-how to many different customers, and it’s going to really play a big part in our evolving business.”
    Meanwhile, Hamilton will be partnered by Valtteri Bottas and Wolff is backing the winning partnership to continue to deliver success.

    The ten greatest F1 drivers of all-time – according to SunSport’s motorsport correspondent Ben Hunt

    Lewis Hamilton is F1’s biggest earner
    He said: “I think the consistency we’ve had within this team over the years has been a real strength and advantage of ours.
    “As we’ve seen in past seasons, it’s a line-up that works well for us, with two incredibly strong drivers who also have a very professional working relationship together.
    “Both are hungry and fired-up to get back racing again soon and we’re all looking forward to seeing them drive our new car in anger for the first time in a few weeks.”

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    British Formula E drivers caught up in missile attack during Saudi Arabia GP

    BRIT motor racing teams were caught up in a terrifying missile attack in Saudi Arabia on Saturday night.
    Terrorists launched a rocket at the capital Riyadh where the multi-million-pound Formula E electric racing championship was taking place.

    A rocket was launched at the capital Riyadh where the Formula E electric racing championship was taking placeCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    Top Brit Formula E driver Sam Bird was at the eventCredit: Rex Features

    Seven Brit drivers, including winner Sam Bird, were at the awards ceremony when the Houthi rebel device was blasted from the sky by a US patriot interceptor.
    Six British-based teams including Williams, Jaguar, Mahindra Racing, Mercedes EQ, Envision Virgin and NIO 333 were there to take part.
    The country’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was among wealthy VIPs attending the futuristic racing event at the Diriyah circuit.

    No injuries were reported but flights were diverted.

    The Saudi military coalition has been fighting the Houthis in nearby Yemen for six years.
    The new motorsport championship Formula E is run in the same style as Formula 1 but with totally electric race cars and is said to be the future of the sport.

    Nelson Piquet Jr goes airborne after huge crash with Jean-Eric Vergne
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    Alex Lynn rushed to hospital after horror Formula E crash as car flips in air and skids along ground upside down

    ALEX LYNN was rushed to hospital after a horror crash during the Formula E race in Diriyah.
    The British star was conscious after his car flipped in the air and skidded along the ground upside down.

    Alex Lynn was taken to hospital after his horror crashCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    The race was red flagged after the crashCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    Lynn is checked over by medical staff after the crashCredit: Splash News

    The second Diriyah E-Prix of the week, which was won by Sam Bird, was halted after Lynn’s accident.
    Lynn’s Mahindra car hit the Jaguar of Mitch Evans during the dramatic incident.

    Evans, who abandoned his race to run to Lynn’s aid, told Motorsport.com: “I saw him go into the wall and I jumped out to make sure he was okay.
    “You never want to see that sort of stuff. He’s a friend as well. You don’t want to see people go through that.

    “I’ve spoken to him. He seems all fine but he’s gone [to hospital] as a precaution to make sure there’s nothing after the shock has worn off.
    “The main thing is he’s all good.”

    The red flag came out after the British driver’s car flipped over and hit the safety wall.
    Lynn was removed from the car by medical staff and taken to hospital immediately.

    Formula E staff reported Lynn was in a stable condition following his medical checks.

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    British Formula E racing drivers caught up in missile attack in Saudi Arabia

    BRIT motor racing teams were last night caught up in a terrifying missile attack in Saudi Arabia.
    Terrorists launched a rocket at the capital Riyadh where the multi-million-pound Formula E electric racing championship was taking place.

    A rocket was launched at the capital Riyadh where the Formula E electric racing championship was taking placeCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    Top Brit Formula E driver Sam Bird was at the eventCredit: Rex Features

    Seven Brit drivers, including winner Sam Bird, were at the awards ceremony when the Houthi rebel device was blasted from the sky by a US patriot interceptor.
    Six British-based teams including Williams, Jaguar, Mahindra Racing, Mercedes EQ, Envision Virgin and NIO 333 were there to take part.
    The country’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was among wealthy VIPs attending the futuristic racing event at the Diriyah circuit.
    No injuries were reported but flights were diverted.

    Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, pictured, are working on Formula E teams but were not at the event last nightCredit: PA:Press Association

    The Saudi military coalition has been fighting the Houthis in nearby Yemen for six years.
    Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton are working on Formula E teams but were not at the event last night.
    The new motorsport championship is run in the same style as Formula 1 but with totally electric race cars and is said to be the future of the sport.

    Nelson Piquet Jr goes airborne after huge crash with Jean-Eric Vergne
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    Formula E: Brit Sam Bird extends winning record to cap off double header in Saudi Arabia

    SAM BIRD extended his record as the only driver to win a race in all seven Formula E seasons in Saudi Arabia.
    The Brit claimed his first victory since his switch to Jaguar to cap off the double header under the lights in Riyadh.

    Sam Bird is the only driver to win a race in all seven Formula E seasonsCredit: Formula E

    Bird fiercely battled with former Envision Virgin Racing teammate Robin Frijns who finished second ahead of two-time FE champion Jean-Eric Vergne.
    Bird said: “I was a bit emotional in the car, it was a big step for me leaving what was my family at Envision Virgin Racing, who were great to me for six years and joining a new team.
    “But Jaguar have welcomed me with open arms, I didn’t know what to expect at the beginning but I have come into a fantastic team.
    “They’re a great bunch of guys, they’re already my family and I’m just happy I can get the result.”

    Last season’s constructors’ champions Techeetah stormed through the field but it ended with both teammates colliding.
    The reigning champion Antonio Felix Da Costa and former F1 ace Vergne both barged into each other as they were fighting for a place on the podium.
    Vergne ultimately took the final step on the podium as Da Costa settled for fourth.

    Both Mercedes drivers finished outside the points
    Mercedes duo Stoffel Vandoorne and yesterday’s winner Nyck de Vries both finished outside of the points.

    This was after a heavy crash in the final practice session for Edoardo Mortara in a Mercedes-powered Venturi car.
    Mortara flew into the barriers after a break failure, which led to the FIA preventing all Mercedes powered cars from going out on track until the issue was resolved, which forced the Mercs to miss qualifying.
    Mortara was not fit to race after going to the medical centre but was on the grid prior to the race.

    Edoardo Mortara avoided any severe injuries from his heavy collisonCredit: Splash News
    Mortara said: “I feel quite okay. I would be lying if I said I was perfectly fine.
    “I have some big pain from the crash this morning but I am thankful and grateful I don’t have any severe injuries.
    “It was not a great feeling, it’s a thing I would like to forget.”
    “You feel a bit like a passenger, there’s nothing you can do with no breaks.”
    “I thought it was the end for me, so it was not a nice feeling at all.”
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    British driver Sam Bird is ready for a new Formula E racing season More