Sebastian Vettel holds key to F1 drivers’ market

Sebastian Vettel holds the key to the Formula 1 driver market as he decides whether to sign a new three-year deal with Ferrari or push for one. According to reports, Vettel has been offered a whopping $138.5m to stay on at Ferrari for a further three seasons. The German, though, it is claimed, is wanting a one-year deal which would pave the way for a move to Mercedes in 2019 when Lewis Hamilton's contract expires. Vettel's indecision means many other drivers are stuck in limbo as they wait to see what happens at Ferrari before committing their futures to other teams.

Sebastian Vettel

Ferrari offer Vettel mega R1.8bn for 3-year deal

Sebastian Vettel has reportedly been offered a three-year deal worth $138.5m (R1.8 billion) as Ferrari look to resolve the four-time world champion's future. Vettel's current deal with the Scuderia expires at the end of the current season, prompting speculation that he may move to title rivals Mercedes.


Mercedes wants Lewis Hamilton to continue beyond 2018 season

Amid Lewis Hamilton's latest retirement rumours and his potential move to Ferrari after 2018 season, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has said that he is pushing the three-time world champion to continue with the team beyond 2018. After Hamilton slashed down the driver's championship gap to one point following a victory at the British Grand Prix, the Briton had refused to rule out retirement any time soon.

Lewis Hamilton calls for patience

Ahead of his home race at Silverstone this weekend, Lewis Hamilton has called on the British fans to ‘have patience’ with him. Hamilton cut a forlorn figure in the wake of his latest disappointment at Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix. The Briton was barely a speck in the distance when Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas crossed the line just ahead of Sebastian Vettel to take his second win of the season.

Ferrari ready to offer Sebastian Vettel a new contract

Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne is open to renewing Sebastian Vettel's contract whenever the four-time world champion is ready to sign. Vettel, now in his third year with the team, is currently leading the championship by 20 points and has scored all of Maranello's six wins over the past three years.


Stroll’s private testing not fair says Villeneuve

Jacques Villeneuve has hit out at the private testing programme being enjoyed this year by controversial F1 rookie Lance Stroll. “They are circumventing the rules,” Villeneuve told Le Journal de Montreal newspaper. “It's not fair to the other drivers because he is the only one to have this privilege thanks to his money. But there should be limits to what money can buy, and I'm not alone in thinking that.”

Jacques Villeneuve

Can Valtteri Bottas handle the pressure of replacing a world champion?

Ahead of the start of the 2017 Formula 1 season, one of the biggest questions in the sport is how Valtteri Bottas will adapt to life at Mercedes. The Finnish driver was roped in by the ‘Silver Arrows’ to replace Nico Rosberg when the 2016 World Champion announced his shock retirement. Bottas is a highly-regarded driver, but with no F1 race wins to his name and a triple World Champion in Lewis Hamilton as his teammate (and most direct competition), the pressure he will experience this year is unlike anything he encountered while at Williams. However, the Finn believes he can handle whatever comes his way in his time with the German marque and is confident of challenging for major honours. Watch: EXCLUSIVE: First interview with Valtteri Bottas - our new driver! “It would be very easy to take a lot of pressure and stress yourself, he told Finnish broadcaster MTV. "But in Formula One I have noticed that if pressure piles up, it only does you harm. “My goals are always so high – I set the bar really high – so I believe that if the pressure comes, it is mostly from me rather than the outside. "I want to win races and championships and in that sense the objective is not changing. “I have huge support from the team and that will certainly help me in every situation." Bottas will make his racing debut in the Mercedes when the 2017 F1 season kicks off in Australia’s Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit on March 26.

Valtteri Bottas

New McLaren chief rates Fernando Alonso as the best driver in the world

New McLaren chief Zac Brown says Fernando Alonso is “buzzing” ahead of the 2017 Formula 1 season. The 35-year-old Spaniard has spent the last couple of years battling near the back of the grid due to McLaren’s lack of pace, and it has been suggested that he has become ‘disillusioned’ with the sport. Brown is adamant this is not the case, telling the official Formula 1 website: “I don’t see Fernando as disillusioned at all. I don’t know him well yet, but I’ve met him a few times, and phoned him too, and I can tell you that he’s buzzing. “Also, even though our car wasn’t fully competitive last season, some of his drives were stunningly good. Look, I’ll be frank: I reckon he’s the best driver in the world, period.” Aside from trying to get McLaren back to the front of the pack, Alonso will have to deal with a new challenge from his teammate, 24-year-old rookie Stoffel Vandoorne. The Belgian has already had a taste of F1, claiming a points finish when he took over the injured Alonso’s seat in last year’s Bahrain GP. Brown continued: “Bearing that in mind, Stoffel faces a serious test. But, guess what, I think he’ll pass it with flying colours. “Our personal trainers tell me he’s probably the fittest driver we’ve ever had, and he’s incredibly focused and determined. He’s fiercely intelligent too – you never have to tell him anything twice. “His grand prix debut in Bahrain last year was sensational – he out-qualified and out-raced Jenson [Button] despite having minimal time to prepare for the weekend. “In fact he only arrived in Bahrain on the Friday morning, straight off a long two-flight journey from Japan via Dubai. “I think Stoffel will surprise a few people. He’s the real deal.”

Fernando Alonso

Goodbye Manor: F1 team falls after failing to find a new buyer

Formula 1 will be without the Manor team after the British-based outfit ceased trading on Friday following their failure to find a new buyer. Manor were forced into administration at the beginning of January, though it was hoped that new investment would rescue them and allow the team to continue competing in F1. However, the Oxfordshire-based team’s operating company, Just Racing Services, stopped trading. Manor’s 200-plus work force were sent home on Friday and are set to be made redundant next week. [caption id="attachment_581273" align="alignnone" width="800"]Esteban Ocon Esteban Ocon[/caption] Manor’s collapse means the 2017 F1 season will begin with just 10 manufacturers on the grid. “It is deeply regrettable that the team has had to cease trading and close its doors,” said Geoff Rowley, joint administrator, and partner at FRP Advisory. “Manor is a great name in British motorsport and the team has achieved a great deal over the past two years, invigorated under new ownership. “The administration process provided a moratorium to allow for attempts to secure a long term viable solution for the team within in a very limited time-frame but sadly no solution could be achieved to allow for the business to continue in its current form within what was a very tight time-frame.”

Esteban Ocon

F1’s new commercial chief picks out four areas where his focus will be

Formula 1’s new commercial chief, Sean Bratches, has picked out four areas where he plans to improve the sport and its relationship with fans. Bratches is a former ESPN executive and was drafted in to work alongside new CEO Chase Carey and managing director for racing Ross Brawn, following Liberty Media’s takeover of F1. In his first interview since becoming F1’s commercial leader, Bratches has identified the brand, digital platforms, approach to teams and partners, and race experience as the four areas where he needs to boost the sport. "There are four real things I am going to focus on," he told CNN. "One is the brand – the brand is the entry-point for any company, any brand, any sport. And we are going to work to understand the brand. "We are going to polish it, we are going to elevate it. It is going to be really central to what we do. That will allow us to enter new market places. "It will allow us to take out of the market place what we should on the commercial side from sponsors, from rights holders, to promoters. "The second is digital. I think there is a huge opportunity in the digital space to re-imagine the digital products that F1 has today, and to engage fans in very new ways and also to use sponsors to activate it. "The third is creating a much more democratic approach in terms of how we approach our partners – from teams/sponsors/promoters and rights holders. There is a lot of opportunity to leverage the F1 IP to integrate it to their businesses. "And the last one, is the race experience. Creating a better race experience that engages fans, spectators there and on television is a huge opportunity." Bratches argues that F1, despite being a hugely popular global sport, has acually underachieved in commercial terms. "Unquestionably it is a Super Bowl every other week and I think that is going to be an emphasis of ours," he added. "I think where the opportunity lies is on the commercial front, which I am going to be spend most of my time on. I think that generally speaking, it has under punched its weight class to date.”

German Formula One driver Nico Rosberg

EFC 57: Flyweight champion Nkazimulo Zulu faces JP Buys

Ultimately, there can only be one champion in a division, and who will claim that title in the highly competitive flyweight roster is about to be decided. On 4 March at Carnival City in Johannesburg, the reigning champion Nkazimulo ‘Zuluboy’ Zulu faces the interim champion JP Buys in an epic eliminator. The flyweights are known as the fastest paced and most dynamic of all the divisions and when the organistaion’s two best clash, fans should expect nothing less than non-stop action from start to finish. Zulu became the division’s first champion by defeating Craig Ninow via TKO in 2015. While he was inactive in EFC since claiming the title, he was invited and competed in ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ Season 24, featuring champions from around the world with a shot at the UFC belt hanging in the balance. While Zulu was competing in the UFC’s ‘TUF’, it was unsure if he would return to EFC to defend his belt and so an interim title was created. Buys truly came to the EFC spotlight when he stepped up on late notice to face EFC veteran Abdul Hassan. In a fight that he was a major underdog, he went on to display his wrestling craft and smashed his way to a TKO victory. This performance earned him a title fight and rematch with Baldwin Mdlalose, he grasped the opportunity and submitted his former adversary in spectacular fashion. Making history, JP Buys was now the youngest EFC champion ever at just twenty years of age. However, the interim title is not enough for Buys. The young MMA superstar wants to be known as the best there is and to do that he must challenge one of the best strikers. Who will remain at the top? There can only be one. This fight co-headlines with the featherweight title fight between undefeated champion Igeu Kabesa and former champion Boyd Allen on 4 March at Carnival City.

Formula 1 need to be simpler and more competitive – Ross Brawn

New Formula 1 managing director Ross Brawn has said that he wants to make the sport simpler and more competitive as it enters a new era. Former Mercedes boss Brawn was appointed to the position of ‘Managing Director, Motor Sports’ by Liberty Media when their takeover of Formula 1 was completed earlier this week. The 62-year-old Brit is widely regarded as one of the smartest people in motorsport and it is hoped that his knowledge and experience will make F1 a better spectacle for the fans. And after three years of Mercedes dominance – ironically based on a foundation laid by Brawn himself – his words that F1 needs to simpler and more competitive are very, very welcome. [caption id="attachment_581211" align="alignnone" width="800"]Lewis Hamilton (centre) Mercedes' Nico Rosberg (right) and Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen Lewis Hamilton (centre) Mercedes' Nico Rosberg (right) and Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen[/caption] “I think simplicity is a key objective for the future,” Brawn told BBC Radio 5 Live. “I’ve watched F1 for the last few years as a spectator, and there are times where even I haven’t been sure what’s been going on in the race. “It’s a great sport, it’s a fabulous combination of the drivers and their personalities, their competition, and then the cars and the whole thing. We just need to look at it and see how we are able to improve the show. “I think the fans want racing, and we haven’t seen too much of that lately. We’ve seen a great competition between two drivers in the same team for the last few years, and that’s no fault of Mercedes as they’ve done a fabulous job.”

The team principal of Mercedes AMG, British Ross Brawn

Pirelli motorsport chiefs warns of a ‘procession’ in 2017 Formula 1 season

Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembery has warned that the 2017 Formula 1 season could be a “procession” due to the new regulations and the use of wider, low degradation tyres. Pirelli, who supply the rubber for F1, have been asked to provide wider tyres which do not degrade as quickly as has been the case in the last few years. In all, the new regulations will make the cars up to five seconds per lap faster and it is also hoped that the ‘reset’ will end Mercedes’ dominance at the front of the pack. However, there are also fears – such as those expressed by Hembery – that the cars will struggle to overtake each other, making for processional racing. “I think the drivers will enjoy it – because with that level of performance, you are going to feel it aren’t you? That will give them a physical challenge they haven’t had for a while,” he told “But the true impact of overtaking will be down to the [relative] performance of the cars. “If the performance of the cars is close together, then there might be chances – if they aren’t then it will be a procession.” [caption id="attachment_581202" align="alignnone" width="800"]Paul Hembery (GBR) Pirelli Motorsport Director Paul Hembery (GBR) Pirelli Motorsport Director[/caption] Lower degradation tyres will also contribute to this, but Hembery says Pirelli were asked to do this by the sport’s organisers. “It is going to be quite the opposite to that [high degradation] – but that is what the sport has asked us to do,” Hembery added. “It asked us to do that [high degradation tyres] back in 2011, and now we are being asked to do something else. We will ask it to the people to ask what is the best approach. We are just trying to deliver what we have been asked to deliver. “On any of these subjects, there are always some pros and some against. I think we will know after five or six races what we have done and if it is right or wrong.” The Pirelli boss added that the new tyres will allow the drivers to push harder for longer without worrying about wearing out their rubber. “We have six years where the input was to create a challenge for the teams and drivers – a thermal challenge where you had to manage overheating and degradation,” he said. “Now we are going to a situation where we are asked to reduce that, so the thermal overheating is significantly reduced and wear levels are reduced, so the drivers in overtaking situations can push harder and not go into an overheating scenario. “That needs to be combined, of course, with the aero changes that reduce the level of disturbance of the air that arrives to the front of the following car. That, combined with the tyres, should enable people to make more aggressive overtaking manoeuvres. “But on the other side there are going to be more corners flat out, and that is not going to help overtaking because people won’t be backing off as there is no braking.”

(L to R): Mario Isola (ITA) Pirelli Racing Manager and Paul Hembery (GBR) Pirelli Motorsport Director reveal the 2017 Pirelli F1 tyres.

Bernie Ecclestone will be a tough act to follow – McLaren’s Zak Brown

New McLaren chief Zak Brown says Formula 1 owes a great debt to Bernie Ecclestone, with the 86-year-old ousted from his position at the top of the sport earlier this week. On Monday, Liberty Media completed their takeover of Formula 1 and the biggest headline coming out of the deal was the removal of Ecclestone as CEO, with Chase Carey replacing him as the sport’s new supremo. In addition, former Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn has returned to F1 with the title ‘Managing Director, Motor Sports’. Brawn’s immense experience - and success - in the sport will hopefully serve F1 well as it heads into an uncertain future. Meanwhile, new McLaren boss Brown believes Ecclestone’s influence helped to turn F1 into a major world-wide sport. “Formula 1 wouldn’t be the international sporting power-house that it is today without the truly enormous contribution made over the past half-century by Bernie Ecclestone,” said Brown. “Indeed, I can’t think of a single other person who has had anything like as much influence on building a global sport as he has. “Bernie will be a very hard act to follow, but he’s created a fantastic springboard from which Chase Carey and his Liberty Media colleagues will be able to take Formula 1 forward and make it even bigger and even better. “And we at McLaren will be eager to help them – indeed we already enjoy great relationships with the Liberty Media principals and we’re looking forward to working very closely with them.” Brown added, “How will ‘bigger and better’ manifest itself? I think the clue is in the words ‘liberty’ and ‘media’,” he said. “Over the next decade I expect the way Formula 1 is run will become both freer and more fan-friendly, and as such we can expect to see new generations of Formula 1 devotees recruited and delighted via the proactive embracing of digital and social media, gaming etc. “Fan engagement is where it’s at these days, and it’s clear that the Liberty Media guys get that.”

Bernie Ecclestone

Jolyon Palmer thankful for tough rookie season in F1 – “I’ve become a lot stronger”

Formula 1 is a form of motorsport which chews most drivers up and then spits them out. Few enjoy long, successful careers in the most prestigious class of open-wheel racing. One man who has high hopes of making a mark in F1 but experienced a tough rookie season is British pilot Jolyon Palmer, with the 25-year-old managing just a single point in the 2016 season. Palmer had to cope with both an uncompetitive car and plenty of speculation that he would lose his seat, but he reckons that it made him a better driver. "I’ve become a lot stronger because of [last] year," Palmer told Autosport. "Mentally it has been tough. Everything that could have been thrown my way has been, in terms of driving a difficult car and maybe being undervalued. "Also, having all the mind games with different drivers out there [vying for a Renault seat] and not knowing what’s going to happen next means you gain a lot of mental strength, as well as improving as a driver. [caption id="attachment_581147" align="alignnone" width="800"]Jolyon Palmer Jolyon Palmer[/caption] "I don’t think it’s a bad thing having this year if it can improve you in the long run, and hopefully this will be the toughest it gets." Improving his technical understanding has also been a major step forward for the British driver, who undertook a major testing session after the Grand Prix at Silverstone in mid-2016. "In terms of technical understanding, I’ve learned a lot this year," added the former GP2 champion. "The Silverstone test day, we were trying loads of different things with the car and generally we have ended up with the car in the window where we can get the most out of it because we have tried quite a lot of things and we have narrowed down to where we are now. "This team is very good, there are a lot of very experienced guys here who have been used to being much further up the field and who are not happy to be where we are, so everyone is working to get more out of the team. "Especially with Renault coming in now, being where we are is not acceptable, but we have been trying a lot of different things and there’s a lot we can collectively learn for the future."

Jolyon Palmer (GBR) Renault Sport F1 Team RS16. Abu Dhabi Grand Prix,

Valentino Rossi still the king of MotoGP

Italian motorcycle racer Valentino Rossi is considered to be best Grand Prix rider of his generation. The 37-year-old, is the third most decorated rider with nine Grand Prix World Championship titles to his name, making him one of the greatest motorcycle racers of all time. Rossi, who last won the title in 2009, finished second behind Spanish racer Marc Marquez in the recent 2016 MotoGP season. Check out Rossi's best moments on the race track:

Valentino Rossi