Ryder Cup 2012: Europe"s golfers pay tribute to Seve Ballesteros

Do it for Seve: Europe pay tribute to the great Spaniard as they try to retain the Ryder Cup

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UPDATED:

17:49 GMT, 30 September 2012

Europe's Ryder Cup team will hope to pull off an unlikely victory on the final day of the tournament inspired by the late, great Seve Ballesteros.

All of Europe's players took to the Medinah Country Club course on the final day of the 39th Ryder Cup – trailing the USA 10-6 over night – dressed in navy jumpers and trousers and a white shirt – just as the Spaniard used to wear.

The tribute has been organised by European captain Jose Maria Olazabal to honour his friend, with whom he formed a dominant partnership in the competition.

True blue: Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal talks with Justin Rose, wearing the famous all blue clothes

True blue: Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal talks with Justin Rose, wearing the famous all blue clothes

Ballesteros, who died in May last year after a long battle with cancer, captained Europe to victory in his native Spain in 1997 after playing in the contest eight times.

The pairing of the two Spaniards became a fixture at this event beginning in 1987 at Muirfield Village when Olazabal was a Ryder Cup rookie.

Severiano Ballesteros

Ian Poulter

Inspiration: Seve was famed for wearing a blue jumped and trousers and Europe's team, including Ian Poulter, wore similar outfits on the final day

‘He was a great figure,’ he said. ‘I think not just for myself but for the whole European squad, not just that year but every year that he played in that team. We are going to miss him a lot.

‘It's going to be actually the first time that he's not going to be with us. He was a special man.

Famous pose: Europe's players had a Seve Ballesteros logo stitched onto their sweaters

Famous pose: Europe's players had a Seve Ballesteros logo stitched onto their sweaters

It's written in the sky: The words 'Do it for Seve' are written above the golf course

It's written in the sky: The words 'Do it for Seve' are written above the golf course

‘I believe Seve reflected the core of Ryder Cup values. More than anything, I learned from him what true passion is all about. Seve, we miss you.’

Olazabal choked back tears during the tournament's opening ceremony on Thursday as chairman of the European Professional Golf Association Phil Weaver paid his own tribute to Seve – describing the Spaniard as 'The heartbeat of that team.'

In what promises to be a colourful Sunday scene the US PGA has encouraged home supporters to turn up at Medinah wearing red.

World Twenty20 2012: Virat Kohli blasts India to victory over Pakistan

Kohli keeps India's hopes alive with unbeaten knock to dispose of Pakistan

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UPDATED:

18:27 GMT, 30 September 2012

Virat Kohli hit two sixes and eight fours in a career-best 78 not out to guide India to a crushing eight-wicket win over Pakistan in the Super Eights at the World Twenty20 on Sunday.

It was Kohli's best score in Twenty20 internationals, surpassing the 70 he scored against New Zealand just before this tournament.

Earlier, Indian spinners Yuvraj Singh and Ravichandran Ashwin bagged two wickets each to dismiss Pakistan for 128 inside 20 overs. India chased the meager total with 18 balls to spare at R Premadasa Stadium.

Matchwinner: Kohli celebrates victory on Sunday

Matchwinner: Kohli celebrates victory on Sunday

SCORECARD

Click here for the full scorecard from Colombo

With the win, India have kept their semi-final hopes alive following the crushing defeat by Australia in their first Super Eights match.

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni credited the victory to his bowlers.

'Today's performance was a really a good one because the part timers contributed, the spinners bowled well and also the fast bowlers,' he said. 'The first two overs we gave away bit of runs. But after that I felt we were quite consistent.'

Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez said his team's batting failure and Kohli's performance with the bat cost his team.

Fine form: Kohli has been outstanding throughout the tournament

Fine form: Kohli has been outstanding throughout the tournament

Fine form: Kohli has been outstanding throughout the tournament

'We really wanted to win the game,' Hafeez said. 'But unfortunately we were losing wickets on a regular basis. We couldn't come back in the first 10 overs. We couldn't set the total we really wanted.'

Pakistan's last Super Eights match is against Australia on Tuesday.

After losing Gautam Gambhir on the second ball of the innings, caught and bowled by left-arm spinner Raza Hasan, Kohli and Virender Sehwag (29) combined for a 74-run stand off 61 balls that virtually sealed the match for India.

Pakistan made a promising batting start after winning the toss but India's bowlers came back strongly, picking up wickets regularly.

Left-arm seamer Irfan Pathan trapped Imran Nazir lbw in the second over with the total on 17 to provide India their first breakthrough.

Momentum: Yuvraj (above) and Balaji (below) were both in the wickets

Momentum: Yuvraj (above) and Balaji (below) were both in the wickets

Momentum: Yuvraj (above) and Balaji (below) were both in the wickets

Shahid Afridi, promoted in the batting order to No 3 with the aim of increasing the scoring rate, made 14 off 12 deliveries before being caught in the deep by Suresh Raina off seam bowler Lakshmipathy Balaji.

Yuvraj had both Nasir Jamshed and Kamran Akmal caught behind by Dhoni.

Pakistan were soon reduced to 59-5, losing four wickets for 24 runs before Shoaib Malik (28) and Umar Akmal (21) brought some respite with a sixth-wicket stand of 47.

Ashwin entered the fray when the pair looked set for a longer stay, having Malik caught at short mid-wicket before Umar Akmal was out caught in the deep by Suresh Raina when trying to increase the scoring rate.

Both Ashwin and Yuvraj returned 2-16, while Balaji had the best bowling figures of 3-22 as he polished off the tail.

London Welsh 25 Gloucester 31

London Welsh 25 Gloucester 31: Burns bites back to settle thrilling encounter

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UPDATED:

16:52 GMT, 30 September 2012

Freddie Burns boosted his England hopes as his attacking spark helped Gloucester avoid becoming London Welsh's latest Aviva Premiership scalp in a Kassam Stadium thriller.

The visitors appeared in control as they opened up an 18-9 interval lead thanks to tries from Shane Monahan and Tom Savage, with Burns involved in the creation of both scores.

But the boot of Gordon Ross, who ended the game with 20 points to his name, kept Welsh in it and Franck Montanella's try looked to have set Lyn Jones' men up for a third-straight win.

Stopped: Daniel Browne of London Welsh is tackled by Mike Tindall of Gloucester

Stopped: Daniel Browne of London Welsh is tackled by Mike Tindall of Gloucester

Match facts

London Welsh: Jewell, Arscott, Parker, Tonga'uiha, Scott, Ross, Keats, Montanella, Briggs, Ion, Mills, Corker, Browne, Hills,
Jackson.

Replacements: Runciman for Jewell (76),
Mackenzie for Parker (20), To'oala for Ross (76), Bristow for Montanella (66), George for Briggs (11), Jolly for Ion (52), Kulemin for Browne (75).

Not Used: Davis.

Tries: Montanella.

Cons: Ross.

Pens: Ross 6.

Gloucester: Cook, Monahan, Twelvetrees, Tindall, Simpson-Daniel, Burns, Robson, Wood, D'Apice, Harden, Savage, Hamilton, Buxton, Qera, Kalamafoni.

Replacements: Lewis for Tindall (63), Trinder for Robson (63), Murphy for Wood (64).

Not Used: Britton, Knight, James, Evans, M. Thomas.

Sin Bin: Burns (42).

Tries: Monahan, Savage, Knight.

Cons: Burns 2.

Pens: Burns 3, Twelvetrees.

Att: 3,072

Ref: Llyr Apgeraint-Roberts (RFU).

However, a thrilling counter-attack instigated and supported by Burns, back after a spell in the sin bin, saw replacement prop Shaun Knight barrel over for the clinching score.

Burns and Ross had traded early penalties before the visitors landed the first telling blow.

Welsh had lost hooker Neil Briggs and centre Sonny Parker to injury when Burns struck his second penalty before producing two moments of brilliance to create the opening try.

The fly-half launched a break from deep with a lovely sidestep and only Nick Scott's deliberate batting down of the scoring pass prevented a try.

The Exiles wing was sent to the sin bin for his trouble and Burns caught the hosts sleeping as he took a quick tap to allow the powerful Monahan to get over on the right.

Ross responded with a penalty for Welsh but they were fortunate not to concede a second try to Monahan when the winger brilliantly swerved his way out of the grasps of the Exiles cover, only to be denied a memorable score by a superb covering tackle from Tyson Keats.

It proved a brief reprieve as more
good work from Monahan and wing partner James Simpson-Daniel laid the
platform for Savage to barge over after Burns had gone close.

Ross
again responded with a penalty but Welsh were being forced into
ill-discipline as they struggled to contain Gloucester's desire to put
tempo on the game.

They
were also guilty of failing to convert two excellent tryscoring chances.
Lock Matt Corker sparked a thrilling counter from deep during the dying
embers of the first half, but repeated battering at the Gloucester line
yielded no reward.

And moments into the second half Ross
failed to get his pass away with several men free outside him as Burns
stepped in and was adjudged to have deliberately knocked on.

That
saw the Gloucester man binned and Ross kicked his fourth penalty, but
Welsh infringed moments later after failing to secure their own line-out
ball to let Billy Twelvetrees reinstate the nine-point gap between the
sides.

Give that to me: Paulica Ion tackles Tom Savage

Give that to me: Paulica Ion tackles Tom Savage

Denied: Hudson Tonga'uiha of London Welsh is tackled by Tindall

Denied: Hudson Tonga'uiha of London Welsh is tackled by Tindall

When the Exiles did manage to win set-piece ball their rolling maul was proving a handful for Gloucester, and one such surge led to Ross' fifth penalty.

The hosts then took the lead after more strong work from their pack. Several drives took them close to the line before Montanella was adjudged to have grounded the ball beneath a pile of bodies.

Ross converted for a one-point advantage and quickly added yet another penalty after Sione Kalamafoni was penalised for attempting to hurdle a pair of London Welsh defenders.

But Burns replied with his third penalty and then superbly created Knight's winning try to give Stuart Lancaster a glimpse of what he could offer come the autumn internationals.

Ryder Cup 2012: Rory McIlroy arrives late – just 10 minutes before start

McIlroy arrives in the nick of time in bizarre Medinah mix-up as Europe attempt recovery

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UPDATED:

16:46 GMT, 30 September 2012

Europe's attempts to equal the biggest ever last-day comeback in Ryder Cup history got off to a chaotic start when Rory McIlroy bizarrely arrived at Medinah just 10 minutes before the start of his singles match.

McIlroy was due to face American Keegan Bradley in the third of the 12 singles contests at 11:25am local time, but only arrived in the car park in an unmarked police car at 11:15am.

That left the world number one just a few minutes to warm up on the putting green near the first tee before facing rookie Bradley, who had won all three of his matches this week alongside Phil Mickelson.

Late: Rory McIlroy showed up in the nick of time

Late: Rory McIlroy showed up in the nick of time

It was not immediately clear what had
caused McIlroy's late arrival, but one possibility was that the Northern
Irishman had been confused by time zones, with television coverage
listing his start time at 12:25 EST, which is 11:25 Central Time.

The United States held a 10-6 lead going into the final day.

European captain Jose Maria Olazabal told the Golf Channel that his heart was racing when he discovered McIlroy's absence.

'We did not have that in mind,' Olazabal added. 'All of a sudden we realised Rory was not here and started to look for him. Finally we got hold of him and he came in with a police escort with 10 or 11 minutes to go.'

I'm here now: McIlroy gestures to the crowd after arriving

I'm here now: McIlroy gestures to the crowd after arriving

There was also plenty of drama on the
course already, with Luke Donald and Bubba Watson both making birdie on
the first before Donald took the lead with a par on the second.

Ian Poulter, Europe's undoubted star
this week with three wins out of three, then chipped in for a birdie on
the first in his match with Webb Simpson, only for the US Open champion
to follow him in from 15ft for a half.

More to follow.

Nice to see you: McIlroy shakes hands with Keegan Bradley

Nice to see you: McIlroy shakes hands with Keegan Bradley

Neil Lennon says Celtic are hitting form ahead of Spartak Moscow clash

Lennon believes Celtic are hitting form at just the right time for Spartak clash

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UPDATED:

16:15 GMT, 30 September 2012

Neil Lennon believes Celtic have hit the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League in perfect time for their Champions League clash with Spartak Moscow on Tuesday night.

The Hoops swept Motherwell away at Fir Park on Saturday to replace the Steelmen at the summit, thanks to a strike from in-form Gary Hooper and an own goal by the unfortunate Well defender Adam Cummins, who compounded a miserable afternoon when he was sent off after the break for a professional foul on Kris Commons.

Celtic could afford to have skipper Scott Brown's penalty saved by Darren Randolph and they were handed an added boost when Georgios Samaras returned for the first time since injuring his elbow on international duty early in September as a second-half substitute.

Delight: Celtic's Scott Brown after the own goal

Delight: Celtic's Scott Brown after the own goal

Lennon said: 'We have gone top of the league so going into the game on Tuesday, that is a good marker for us psychologically.

'We are starting to hit a bit of form which is great.

'The new lads are starting to settle in, we have players back and we will need them.

'We were very motivated going into the game and we picked Motherwell off very well at times.

'They found it a little bit difficult to adjust to the movement and we were able to get down the sides and round the back of them because we isolated their two centre-halves and some of the passing to get the boys in was very good, so overall it was a big performance.

'It was great to see Samaras back in full flow, and I thought Emilio Izaguirre was brilliant, he set a really good tempo and example and it augurs well but we know Tuesday is a different animal.

'We won't have anywhere near the bulk of possession or chances created but it is a huge confidence-booster going into that game.'

Form: Neil Lennon thinks Celtic have hit the top at the right time

Form: Neil Lennon thinks Celtic have hit the top at the right time

Any notions that Motherwell could be genuine contenders for the SPL title this season came to an abrupt end against a rampant Celtic side who could and should have scored more, notwithstanding the fact that the home side played most of the second half with 10 men.

Indeed, Fir Park manager Stuart McCall was pleased to escape without suffering a bigger drubbing.

'We wanted to do better but their movement was outstanding,' he said.

'We have a young side and there was a certain naivety, we squeezed too high.

'So it could have been more but one thing was, my players didn't chuck it.

'We said before the game that regardless of what the score was, they had to stick at it and they certainly did.'

Aston Villa 1 West Brom 1: Match report

Aston Villa 1 West Brom 1: Super sub Bent cancels out Long's opener to earn point

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UPDATED:

17:01 GMT, 30 September 2012

Record signing Darren Bent came off the substitutes' bench to rescue a point for Aston Villa in a pulsating Barclays Premier League derby with West Brom at Villa Park.

Bent was axed by Villa boss Paul Lambert with Gabriel Agbonlahor and Christian Benteke preferred upfront.

But he had only been on the pitch 11 minutes when he fired the equaliser in front of England head coach Roy Hodgson to cancel out Shane Long's opener.

That'll do it: Bent scores late on for Villa

That'll do it: Bent scores late on for Villa

Match facts:

Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Bennett, Albrighton (N'Zogbia 66min), Holman, El Ahmadi, Delph (Bannan 71min) Agbonlahor, Benteke (Bent 68min).

Subs not used: Given, Westwood, Weimann, Lichaj.

Goal: Bent 80

West Brom: Foster, Jones (Tamas 45+2min), McAuley, Olsson, Popov, Morrison, Mulumbu, Yacob, Brunt (Dorrans 39min), Gera, Long (Lukaku 72min).

Goal: Long 51

Subs not used: Luke Daniels, Rosenberg, El Ghanassy, Fortune.

Latest Premier League results, fixtures and table

All square: Aston Villa striker Darren Bent scores to make it 1-1

All square: Aston Villa striker Darren Bent scores to make it 1-1

Opening up: Shane Long puts the Baggies ahead

Opening up: Shane Long puts the Baggies ahead

Making no mistake: Shane Long scores for West Brom from close range

Making no mistake: Shane Long scores for West Brom from close range

Going close: Gabriel Agbonlahor has a shot for Villa

Going close: Gabriel Agbonlahor has a shot for Villa

High jump: Matthew Lowton competes for the ball with Chris Brunt

High jump: Matthew Lowton competes for the ball with Chris Brunt

Taking a tumble: Karim El Ahmadi tackles Yousuff Mulumbu

Taking a tumble: Karim El Ahmadi tackles Yousuff Mulumbu

Battle for the ball: Aston Villa's Brett Holman challenges Billy Jones

Battle for the ball: Aston Villa's Brett Holman challenges Billy Jones

Midfield battle: Chris Brunt tries to win the ball from Marc Albrighton

Midfield battle: Chris Brunt tries to win the ball from Marc Albrighton

Frustration: Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert sees a chance go wide

Frustration: Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert sees a chance go wide

Warm embrace: Paul Lambert and Steve Clarke shake hands before the game

Warm embrace: Paul Lambert and Steve Clarke shake hands before the game

Harlequins 16 Saracens 18: Owen Farrell on fire

Harlequins 16 Saracens 18: Farrell on fire for Sarries to break unbeaten Quins run

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UPDATED:

16:54 GMT, 30 September 2012

England fly-half Owen Farrell kicked the winning penalty six minutes from time as Saracens consigned Harlequins to their first defeat in five Aviva Premiership matches this season.

Farrell scored all 18 points for the visitors, with six penalties, in a hard-fought encounter at the Twickenham Stoop.

Harlequins, knocked off the top of the table when Northampton beat Wasps on Friday night, replied with an opportunist try from scrum-half Danny Care and 11 points from the boot of fly-half Nick Evans.

On form: Owen Farrell scored all of Sarries points

On form: Owen Farrell scored all of Sarries points

Breakout: Brad Barritt is tackled by Harlequins' Nick Easter

Breakout: Brad Barritt is tackled by Harlequins' Nick Easter

Match facts

Harlequins: Brown, Stegman, Hopper, Turner-Hall, Monye, Evans, Care, Marler, Gray, Johnston, Kohn, Robson, Guest, Robshaw, Easter.

Replacements: Buchanan for Gray (28), Matthews for Kohn (54), Fa'asavalu for Guest (54).

Not Used: Lambert, Collier, Dickson, Clegg, Lindsay-Hague.

Sin Bin: Kohn (33).

Tries: Care. Cons: Evans. Pens: Evans 3.

Saracens: Goode, Ashton, Tomkins, Barritt, Wyles, Farrell, Wigglesworth, Gill, Brits, Du Plessis, Borthwick, Hargreaves, Brown, Fraser, Joubert.

Replacements: Strettle for Tomkins (53), Hodgson for Wyles (69), Spencer for Wigglesworth (74), Vunipola for Gill (49), Smit for Brits (63), Stevens for Du Plessis (45), Kruis for Hargreaves (54), Saull for Fraser (72).

Sin Bin: Kruis (66).

Pens: Farrell 6.

Att: 14,224

Ref: Andrew Small (RFU).

But the usually dependable former All
Black missed three kickable second-half penalties, any one of which
would have been enough to preserve Quins' 100 per cent record this
season.

Evans kicked Harlequins into a
second-minute lead but six minutes later he saw a second attempt rebound
off the post after Sarries flanker Will Fraser pulled down a rolling
maul.

Saracens drew level in the 12th minute with Farrell's simple opening penalty after Harlequins strayed offside.

Two minutes later Evans restored his side's lead with his second successful kick.

Farrell equalised again in the 21st
minute after former England number eight Nick Easter was penalised for
not rolling away from a ruck.

The first try-scoring opportunity was
wasted by Quins. Evans found Easter but, with full-back Mike Brown
outside him, the back-row man's final pass went straight into the arms
of Saracens' England wing Chris Ashton.

A quick break out of defence put
Sarries on the front foot when Farrell and hooker Schalk Brits combined
to release Ashton down the right touchline but he was superbly tackled
into touch by Brown.

Harlequins hit trouble when they lost
hooker Joe Gray to injury, had lock Ollie Kohn sin-binned and fell
behind to Farrell's third penalty.

Over the line: Danny Care dives over to score a try

Over the line: Danny Care dives over to score a try

Gray's game ended in the 28th minute
when he was replaced for the second time by Rob Buchanan, only four
minutes after returning to the pitch following a 14-minute blood-injury
absence.

Five minutes later referee Andrew
Small showed Kohn the yellow card for killing the ball near his own line
and Farrell landed the resulting penalty.

On the move: Care breaks through

On the move: Care breaks through

But 14-man Quins put the misfortunes
behind them when Care, looking far more lively than England scrum-half
rival and opposite number Richard Wigglesworth, scored a real sniper's
try.

Exploiting a rare gap in the
Premiership's meanest defence, he dashed clear to touch down near the
posts, leaving Evans a simple conversion.

Charge: Harlequins' Mike Brown breaks through a tackle from Saracens' Will Fraser (left) and Steve Borthwick

Charge: Harlequins' Mike Brown breaks through a tackle from Saracens' Will Fraser (left) and Steve Borthwick

Farrell reduced Quins' lead to a single point with a 45-metre penalty four minutes into the second half.

Then hooker Brits produced a touch of
magic worthy of a half-back when he found space and directed an
inch-perfect kick into the corner for the chasing Ashton but he was once
again thwarted by Brown's first-class covering.

Evans missed a 52nd-minute penalty
kick for Harlequins and, three minutes later, Farrell kicked the
visitors ahead after Quins were penalised at the breakdown.

Pure gold: Mo Farah does the Mobot with the Harlequins mascots and daughter Rihanna

Pure gold: Mo Farah does the Mobot with the Harlequins mascots and daughter Rihanna

Evans was off-target again in the 62nd
minute after Sarries' replacement prop Mako Vunipola was penalised for
entering a ruck from the side.

But Evans made no mistake from in
front of the posts in the 66th minute after Saracens' replacement lock
George Kruis, who had only been on the pitch for 12 minutes, was
yellow-carded for hands in the ruck.

Evans then missed another penalty shot before Farrell kicked the winner in the 74th minute.

Tim Sherwood plays down Blackburn Rovers managment rumours

Spurs coach Sherwood cool on Blackburn management rumours

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UPDATED:

11:35 GMT, 30 September 2012

Tottenham coach Tim Sherwood has played down reports linking him with the role of Blackburn manager.

The 43-year-old, who captained Rovers to the 1995 Premier League title, has emerged as a contender to succeed Steve Kean at Ewood Park following the Scot's resignation on Friday night.

But Sherwood, who has been part of Spurs' coaching set-up since 2008 and is involved in the youth set-up at White Hart Lane in his role as technical co-ordinator, insisted on Sunday morning that he was happy in his current post.

Keeping quiet: Tim Sherwood said the story was just a rumour

Keeping quiet: Tim Sherwood said the story was just a rumour

'That's all they are – just rumours,' he said. 'That's all I know about it.

'I've got a great job where I am. There ain't nothing to consider. It's just speculation.

'I love what I do. I'm happy at the football club – it's a great project.'

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas acknowledged Sherwood would have a tough decision to make if he was approached by the npower Championship club.

'I can't comment on the Blackburn situation because I have Steve Kean as a friend and I respect him,' the Portuguese said.

'But if Tim is a candidate, he has to make a personal decision and speak to the club.'

China Open 2012: Laura Robson beats Kimiko Date-Krumm

Robson cruises past veteran Date-Krumm to reach second round of China Open

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UPDATED:

11:33 GMT, 30 September 2012

Laura Robson advanced to the second round of the China Open on Sunday with a straight-sets victory over Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm.

The 18-year-old world No 57 saw off 42-year-old wild card Date-Krumm 6-4 6-4 in one hour 22 minutes.

Robson will face Lourdes Dominguez Lino in round two after the Spaniard overcame 15th-seeded Italian Roberta Vinci 6-7 (4/7) 7-6 (7/4) 6-2.

Easy does it: Laura Robson barely broke sweat as she cruised through to the second round

Easy does it: Laura Robson barely broke sweat as she cruised through to the second round

Lewis Hamilton moved to Mercedes for new challenge – Niki Lauda

Hamilton's Mercedes switch was not motivated by money, insists Lauda

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UPDATED:

11:26 GMT, 30 September 2012

Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda has revealed the role he played in luring Lewis Hamilton to make the switch from McLaren, reiterating the move was all about providing the British driver with a new challenge.

Mercedes announced on Thursday morning that Hamilton would be joining them on a three-year deal from the start of the 2013 Formula One season, ending a 14-year association with McLaren.

Hamilton will replace Michael Schumacher at the German team, with Mexican Sergio Perez – currently with Sauber – stepping in for the Briton at McLaren.

Thumbs up: Lewis Hamilton will leave McLaren to join Mercedes for next season

Thumbs up: Lewis Hamilton will leave McLaren to join Mercedes for next season

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh warned Hamilton that leaving for Mercedes will prove to be a mistake, but three-time former world champion Lauda – who held talks with a pragmatic and apparently emotionless Hamilton last week – said the 27-year-old was eager to start a new chapter.

'I spoke to him a couple of times, but I didn't have to convince him much,' the 63-year-old told BBC Radio Five's Sportsweek programme. 'He had a clear plan and I didn't have to convince him of anything.

'I can honestly say I was impressed with his approach to things – very pragmatic, no emotions whatsoever. The real discussion was, 'why should I leave a competitive car where my life is easier in the future'

Teaming up: Hamilton (right) will race with Nico Rosberg at Mercedes

Teaming up: Hamilton (right) will race with Nico Rosberg at Mercedes

'My argument was, 'if you're looking for a new challenge then frankly the Mercedes team is one'. Thinking the other way round, if Michael Schumacher could not get the Mercedes team – for three years running – up front and you next year are doing much better, this makes a huge impact on your personality and people will rate you much higher than you are rated now.'

He continued: 'The money discussion I was not really involved in. The money was not really the case. The offer was very close to the one of McLaren. In the end it was that he looks for a new challenge.

'I understand him because if you drive six years for same the team and for the same people you get used to each other. It works for him because he won one championship and he is winning races, but nevertheless a new challenge with new people… you learn different things and different approaches – it's something that for a competitive guy like Lewis was very interesting.'

Big move: Sergio Perez will replace Hamilton at McLaren next season

Big move: Sergio Perez will replace Hamilton at McLaren next season

Lauda has no doubt about the 27-year-old's speed and quality, but insisted there was no No 1 driver in the Mercedes team.

'I think he is, (even) in a bad car, the best driver in the world because he's unbelievably quick,' Lauda said. 'He makes no compromise. So if Hamilton would join the team next year, which he is, I can tell you he will make a big move forward on speed.'

He added: 'There's no No 1 and No 2. There's enough money for Mercedes that they can prepare two cars exactly the same way.

'And what I really look forward to is that Hamilton will push Nico Rosberg to go quicker and Nico will push Hamilton to go quicker – and this is really all you need in a team.'