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    Formula E: Jean-Eric Vergne wins chaotic race in Rome as Brit Sam Bird strengthens lead in championship

    TWO-TIME Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne won the first of two races in Rome.The chaotic street race saw Audi’s Lucas Di Grassi lose the lead due to a power failure which led to the two Mercedes also crashing.
    Jean-Eric Vergne won his first race of the season
    As Di Grassi slowed, Mercedes’ Stoffel Vandoorne took evasive action but spun off and collided with his teammate Nyck de Vries.
    While Brit Sam pulled off sensational overtakes throughout the race as he fought from 11th on the grid to finish second, to strengthen his lead at the top of the championship to nine points.
    Vergne was able to cruise to victory behind the safety car as the stewards cleared up a handful of stricken cars.
    Vergne said: “It was a very difficult race with the conditions. There was a lot of rain and it was very slippy.
    “I almost hit the wall on more than one occasion but I was able to survive and I am very happy with the win.”
    Vergne’s car had to be rebuilt following practice after Oliver Turvey came charging into the back of him while he was stationary, preparing to do a practice start.
    Eight cars failed to finish the ePrix in Rome
    This was Jaguar’s first ever double podium finish as Bird finished second and his teammate Mitch Evans climbed from 12th to finish third.
    The two Jaguar drivers wore black armbands in in tribute to Prince Philip.
    Bird said: “That’s our first ever double podium as a team, so massive congrats to the guys who are here and back at the factory.
    “It’s been working really between me and Mitch on and off the circuit which is great and we’re working hard to push the team forwards.”
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    British driver Sam Bird is ready for a new Formula E racing season More

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    Lewis Hamilton posts cryptic message about his hands and hints at what tattoos mean after showing off body art

    LEWIS HAMILTON has posted a cryptic message on social media hinting at the meanings of the tattoos on his hands.The British Formula One star, 36, is enjoying the weekend off having won the 2021 season opener in Bahrain.
    Lewis Hamilton has hinted as to the meanings of his hand tattoos
    Lewis Hamilton took to Twitter to revealed his ‘hands tell a story’
    Hamilton is enjoying a weekend off having won the season opener in Bahrain last SundayCredit: Splash
    And before kicking off his Imola preparations – with the Grand Prix in Italy taking place next weekend – Hamilton shared a message to his 6.2m Twitter followers.
    In it, the Mercedes racer appeared to hint at the meaning of his tattoos.
    Hamilton captioned a pair of pictures: “Our Hands Tell A Story – each hand tells a different one.
    “Some of age and wisdom, some of hard work, some of bravery and some of love.
    “They all have a rhythm of their own.
    “What do your hands say about you?”
    It’s not the first time Hamilton has explained his inkings either, having opened up about his body-art in 2018.
    In a video for GQ, Hamilton explained: “I got a big cross on my back, I mean, the idea originally came from Tupac who was my favourite rapper.
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    “And I wanted to put angel wings around it. And then at the top it says, ‘Still I rise’.
    “It took like, I think ten hours or something like that, just in one go, straightaway.
    “And since then I’ve loved my back.”
    On his tattoos, Hamilton explained: “Once you kinda get your first one, you kind of move on to, kind of, what next can I get?
    “What else can I kind of connect with. What else resonates with me?”

    Hamilton later revealed the compass marked onto his chest holds religious connotations.
    He claimed: “I’ll leave church on a Sunday thinking, wow I’ve really gained my direction where to go.
    “So church is really my compass, so that’s why I got the compass.”
    Hamilton also has the words ‘family’ and ‘faith’ on his shoulders because as he is ‘very, very close’ to his family.
    Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen react to epic Bahrain opener More

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    Max Verstappen brands F1 rival Lewis Hamilton ‘one of the best ever’ as pair set sights on Imola showdown

    MAX VERSTAPPEN has described Lewis Hamilton as among Formula One’s ‘best-ever’ drivers as he goes toe-to-toe with the Brit for the title.Last season saw Hamilton, 36, cruise to a record-equalling seventh world championship but 2021 may not be quite so straightforward.
    Max Verstappen believes Lewis Hamilton is one of Formula One’s best-ever racersCredit: AFP
    The title rivals fought out a fascinating battle in the Bahrain season openerCredit: Splash
    An enthralling opening round in Bahrain saw the Dutchman push his rival all the way, suggesting Red Bull have caught up with the dominant Mercedes.
    And Verstappen, 23, has given his take on calls for Hamilton to be recognised as the greatest F1 driver of all time.
    He told Autosport: “Man, you know it’s super hard, but of course you have to give credit to Lewis.
    “[For] the way he has dealt with all the years, to always come back and be honoured and win that amount of races and championships. You definitely cannot go around Lewis.
    “But, of course, there are still a lot of other people in F1, I think who are very good, very strong, and would have been very good in that car as well.
    “But still, of course, the way Lewis has won and also sometimes in tricky races – like last year in Turkey, to win that race, I think he did very well.
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    “Yeah, definitely he is one of the best ever in F1.”
    The pair will face off once again in just over a week’s time for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola.
    With Hamilton beating Verstappen to the line by less than a second last time out, fans are hoping for another huge battle.
    And the Mercedes star is hyped up for the clash and believes team-mate Valtteri Bottas will also feature in the title fight.
    I’m super excited and super happy for the fans, that they are excited.Lewis Hamilton

    He said: “I’m super excited and super happy for the fans, that they are excited.
    “I think it’s something that all the fans have wanted for a long time.
    “Of course, this is only one race, so we don’t know what the future holds in terms of the pace they have.
    “They could be ahead a lot more, but we’re going to work as hard as we can to try and stay close in this battle and I hope for many more of these sorts of races with Max and Valtteri.”
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    Max Verstappen says the whole weekend has been going really well while Lewis Hamilton reacts to starting Bahrain GP in second More

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    Sebastian Vettel planning for life off F1 track as Aston Martin driver studies organic farming during lockdown

    SEBASTIAN VETTEL is proving to be a Farmula One hit after studying organic farming during lockdown.The German is highly secretive about his private life but has opened up after revealing took an internship in agriculture.
    Four-time world champ Sebastian Vettel says he is interested in the nutritional differences between each type of fruit and vegetableCredit: Splash
    German superstar Vettel is sure to a tractor attention with his farming revelationCredit: Splash
    Vettel, 33, has previously spoken about climate change but has now expressed his interest in organic farming.
    The dad of three, who drives for Aston Martin this season after leaving Ferrari, has also become an ambassador for the BioBienenApfel project; an incentive to protect bees and insects.
    When quizzed about his interest in farming, Vettel said: “Since I had more time than I had actually planned, I thought about what I could do and what interested me.
    “That’s what interests me. At some point you realise that not every vegetable is the same, not every apple has the same nutrients, and then you ask why.
    “Then you realise very quickly where the apple comes from and how it is grown – and that’s how the doors opened for me.
    “The theory interests me and I read about it a lot.
    “But to learn more from the practical side and talk to the people who deal with it on a day-to-day basis, that was very interesting.”
    The four-time world champion has also been doing some conservation on his home in Switzerland, creating an insect haven in the shape of a heart for his kids to enjoy.
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    He added: “Since I didn’t want to settle for a small heart, I then staked out the heart a bit bigger.
    “The girls were there at the beginning, but then I was alone with the spade and that was very exhausting.
    “Last year, a little bit came up, but I’m looking forward to seeing more sprouts this year.”
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    Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel looks forward to Formula 1 return More

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    Mercedes threatened to ban Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg from races due to bust-ups between pair

    MERCEDES boss Toto Wolff has admitted that he threatened to ban Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg due to their toxic rivalry.The pair were involved in some of the Silver Arrows’ most dominant seasons on their journey from karting teammates to bitter foes.
    Mercedes threatened to ban Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg due to their feudingCredit: Getty
    Rosberg is the only man who has stopped Hamilton from winning the F1 title during the last seven years but the two had a bitter fallout.
    The German even revealed in an interview with SunSport that he needed a mind coach to help him through some of the low points.
    Their on-track clashes – most notably at Spa 2014, Austria 2016 and their infamous collision in Spain 2016 cemented their rivalry as one of the fiercest in F1 history.
    And Wolff claimed Mercedes came close to impose race suspensions on both Rosberg and Hamilton at the height of their feuding.
    He told the High Performance Podcast: “It was very difficult because I came into the team as a newcomer in Formula 1, and Nico and Lewis had been in the sport for much longer.
    I always made it clear that if this were to happen regularly, and I would see a pattern, then I have no fear in making somebody miss racesMercedes boss Toto Wolff
    “But still, I was able to create an environment where they had to respect the team. Sometimes with an iron fist, or iron grip, and they understood that they couldn’t let us down, they couldn’t let Mercedes down.
    “The events of 2014, where I felt there was some selfish behaviour, I said that the next time you come close to the other car, your team mate, you think about the Mercedes brand, you think about single individuals in the team, you think about Dieter Zetsche, the CEO of Mercedes.
    “That’s probably going to change the way you act; you’re not going to put your team mate in the wall.
    “And I always made it clear that if this were to happen regularly, and I would see a pattern, then I have no fear in making somebody miss races.
    “The thing the drivers want the most is to compete in a car and you always need to be very clear that you compete in the car if you understand the team game.
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    “And it’s much more difficult because there are only two drivers in the team and it’s not easy to find a replacement, and a replacement on that level.
    “But I’m prepared to sacrifice a race or two just to make it clear for all future generations that are going to drive for Mercedes that that’s not on.”
    Rosberg stunned the sport by retiring from F1 in 2016 having won the title while Hamilton has won six of the last seven titles.
    Champion Rosberg hopes for better relationship with Hamilton in retirement More

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    Aston Martin F1 team sign Nico Hulkenberg as reserve and developmental driver for 2021 season after Racing Point stint

    ASTON MARTIN F1 team have signed up Nico Hulkenberg as their reserve and development driver for the 2021 season.The German raced for the team under its previous guise as Force India between 2012 and 2016.
    Nico Hulkenberg has signed for Aston MartinCredit: PA
    He also filled in for Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez last season when both Racing Point drivers tested positive for COVID-19.
    The 33-year-old has competed in 176 F1 races with Williams, Sauber and Renault, as well as his stints at Force India and Racing Point.
    Hulkenberg said: “First of all, it’s great to get this deal signed up with plenty of notice – last year, I didn’t have quite as much time to prepare before jumping in the car! 
    “I’m really pleased to once again work with this team – with whom I have driven many times during my career. 
    “Obviously, I’m hoping that Sebastian Vettel and Lance enjoy uninterrupted seasons this year, but the team knows it can rely on me to step in and do an excellent job, and I’m fully prepared to take on that challenge. 
    “It will also be interesting to help develop the team through the season, and I’m really looking forward to pulling great lap-times out of my arm sleeve.”
    Welcome home, @HulkHulkenberg. 🤜🤛Here’s everything you need to know about the Hulk’s new role as reserve and development driver for the 2021 season. #Hulkenback 💚— Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team (@AstonMartinF1) April 8, 2021

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    Otmar Szafnauer, CEO and Team Principal, added: “We’re delighted to be able to welcome Nico back to the team in an official capacity, as reserve and development driver for Aston Martin. 
    “In these difficult times, the requirement for a capable and experienced reserve driver is especially important. 
    “Nico proved last year that he could jump in the car and perform superbly at a moment’s notice; now, with additional scope for preparation and integration, we know that we can rely on Nico to do an excellent job.”
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    Ralf Schumacher slams ‘whining’ Sebastian Vettel and tells him ‘nobody cares’ about Aston Martin debut flop

    SEBASTIAN VETTEL was told to stop ‘whining’ about his Aston Martin car by Ralf Schumacher.And the ex-F1 driver reckons Vettel has to knuckle down after a miserable season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.
    Sebastian Vettel admitted he doesn’t feel at home in his Aston Martin yetCredit: Splash
    Ralf Schumacher thinks Sebastian Vettel needs to stop ‘whining’ about the carCredit: Rex
    Four-time world champion Vettel switched to Aston Martin this year after six seasons with Ferrari.
    But he failed to make it out of Q1 in the Middle East and finished a disappointing 15th place.
    Schumacher, who won six F1 races during his decade-long F1 career and is brother of legend Michael, told Sport1.de: “The whining that he doesn’t feel the car has to stop.
    “I’m sorry for Sebastian. This is a huge problem and it will take time.
    “Nobody cares about that, and after all, we’re in Formula One here and he’s also earning a lot of money.
    “At the end of the day, Sebastian is an experienced racing driver and a multiple world champion. He has to clean up with his team-mate now and the rest will come on its own even if the Aston Martin doesn’t turn into a winning car this year.”
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    Aston Martin had a miserable first race of the season in BahrainCredit: Rex

    “He’s not unreasonable. I understand Sebastian’s frustration.
    “He had anything but a perfect weekend.”
    Vettel’s team-mate Lance Stroll finished in 10th place at last month’s season opener.
    The teams head to Imola for the second race on April 18.

    Speaking after Bahrain, Vettel admitted: “It’s been probably not the best weekend or the weekend we were looking for.
    “But there were a lot of things that we learned that we need to address. We will see how quickly we can fix them.
    “I’m not at home in the car. There’s a lot of things that are fighting me so that I can’t really focus on driving. But we need to address them and try and fix them.”
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    MotoGP star Valentino Rossi’s girlfriend Sofia Novello reveals she was groped as a 19-year-old grid girl

    SOFIA NOVELLO has revealed she was groped as a teenager while working as a MotoGP grid girl.The Italian, 27, is in a relationship with legendary rider Valentino Rossi having stood on the grid while making her way in the modelling industry.
    Sofia Novello, partner of Valentino Rossi, has described her time as a grid girlCredit: Getty
    Sofia is a regular at MotoGP races where her boyfriend is a big starCredit: Getty
    And she has opened up on how her time in the sport was marred by unwanted groping.
    Sofia told Vanity Fair: “In reality it is a job like many others, a stage in my career of which I am proud.
    “At 19 it’s not easy to work with people who look at your butt when you pass by, and touch your butt when you take a picture.
    “Motorsport is a male environment. You have to wake up, you can’t be a smiling goose.
    “I’m for girl power. But it’s part of the game, it does happen.
    “You have to learn to be respected. If you let it go and show yourself to be ‘beautiful and stupid’, you’re done.”
    Sofia has forged a successful career for herself as a model and influencer while Rossi, 42, will aim for his 200th podium in the 2021 MotoGP season, which began last month.
    Asked whether she dislikes being primarily seen as the racer’s girlfriend, she highlighted her own achievements as more important to her identity.
    I would have done the same things in my career. It would have taken longer, but I would have done them.Sofia Novello
    Sofia has spoken on building her own career while being known as Rossi’s girlfriendCredit: Instagram @francescasofianovello
    Novello worked as a grid girl while making her way in modellingCredit: Instagram @francescasofianovello

    She explained: “If you have an important man by your side, it’s almost inevitable.
    “But I am pleased to have continued to work, as much as I can, without using his name.
    “Certainly without Valentino I would not have reached the popularity I have today.
    “But in my career I would have done the same things. It would have taken longer, but I would have done them.”
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