Tag Archives: drivers

London Tube strike: Arsenal v West Ham Boxing Day game could be off

Arsenal in talks with Premier League to postpone West Ham game until 2013 as Tube drivers announce Boxing Day strike

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UPDATED:

15:38 GMT, 18 December 2012

Arsenal are locked in talks with the Premier League over postponing their Christmas clash with West Ham after Tube workers announced they would strike on Boxing Day.

A club statement issued today read: 'Arsenal Football Club is currently in discussions with the Premier League, West Ham United, police and relevant authorities over the possible postponement of the Boxing Day fixture at Emirates Stadium, following the announcement that London Underground drivers plan industrial action on that day.

'The match is in doubt due to the difficulties of getting 60,000 supporters, plus matchday staff and employees to the stadium safely in the advent of disruption to public transport on a public holiday.

Calling it off Arsenal may have to wait until the New Year to take on West Ham

Calling it off Arsenal may have to wait until the New Year to take on West Ham

Under threat: The Gunners clash with West Ham might be rescheduled

Under threat: The Gunners clash with West Ham might be rescheduled

'The Club will make a further announcement as soon as a final decision is made.'

Although Arsenal have not made a
final decision on whether to call off proceedings, it seems likely that
Sam Allardyce will have to wait until the New Year to take his side to the Emirates.

Arsenal's 60,000-seater ground is
five minutes' walk from Holloway Road station in north London, with
Highbury and Islington and Finsbury Park also close by.

Many fans use the service to get to games so a suspension would cause chaos if the match went ahead.

A strike by Tube drivers last year
forced Arsenal to delay their Boxing Day match with Wolves by 24 hours
but they cannot do the same this year as they have a game against
Newcastle on December 29.

Twelve months ago the club cited the 'duty of
care' they had to both sets of supporters and staff.

A midweek evening in January seems the likeliest date for re-staging but neighbours Tottenham Hotspur and the FA Cup are also factors to be considered.

QPR's match with West Brom will kick off at 3pm as planned after the club held a meeting this afternoon to discuss the matter.

Loftus Road is close to three Tube stations and fans are often reliant on the service but a statement on Ranger's website read: 'Supporters are advised to allow extra time for their journeys to and from Loftus Road.

'Buses will be running on the usual Sunday/Bank Holiday service on the day of the fixture, whilst parking in the borough will be free.

Christmas cheer Arsenal are facing a tricky festive period

Christmas cheer Arsenal are facing a tricky festive period

'Supporters who are unable to attend the fixture owing to the Tube strikes will be entitled to a full refund.'

Fulham will wait for official confirmation of the Tube strike before deciding if any action needs to be taken over their Boxing Day match with Southampton at Craven Cottage.

A club spokesman said: 'We are monitoring situation and putting contingency in place but remain fully committed to the game going ahead as scheduled.'

Fulham play Swansea three days later.

Charlton are the only Championship side hosting a Boxing Day fixture in the capital but it is understood their match with Ipswich should not be too badly disrupted and will go ahead. Most home fans travel in from Kent rather than central London.

Derailed: Fans will have find it difficult to get across the capital

Derailed: Fans will have find it difficult to get across the capital

The announcement by Aslef means
London Underground drivers are on course to walk out on Boxing Day, as
well as January 18 and 25 in a row over bank holiday pay. It will be the
third successive Christmas walkout by Tube drivers.

The
move was announced after Aslef members voted by 9-1 in favour of
strikes. A spokesman said: 'The ballot result shows the strength of
feeling that remains on this issue.'

Tube strike threatens to cause Boxing Day chaos for football fans

Arsenal clash with West Ham threatened after Tube drivers announce Boxing Day strike

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UPDATED:

16:51 GMT, 17 December 2012

Arsenal are set to postpone their Boxing Day clash with West Ham until the new year after the proposed London Underground strike was confirmed by the Aslef union.

The club will not officially call off the encounter until the industrial action by Tube drivers is ratified by authorities but it appears likely it will be 2013 before Sam Allardyce brings his team to the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal's 60,000-seater ground is five minutes' walk from Holloway Road station in north London, with Highbury and Islington and Finsbury Park also close by. Many fans use the service to get to games so a suspension would cause chaos if the match went ahead.

Under threat: The Gunners clash with West Ham might be rescheduled

Under threat: The Gunners clash with West Ham might be rescheduled

Boxing Day games under threat

Barclays Premier League

Arsenal v West Ham

Fulham v Southampton

nPower Championship

Charlton v Ipswich

nPower League One

Leyton Orient v Swindon

nPower League Two

Dagenham and Redbridge v Southend

A strike by Tube drivers last year
forced Arsenal to delay their Boxing Day match with Wolves by 24 hours
but they cannot do the same this year as they have a game against
Newcastle on December 29. Twelve months ago the club cited the 'duty of
care' they had to both sets of supporters and staff.

A midweek evening in January seems the likeliest date for re-staging but neighbours Tottenham Hotspur and the FA Cup are also factors to be considered.

QPR's match with West Brom will kick off at 3pm as planned after the club held a meeting this afternoon to discuss the matter.

Loftus Road is close to three Tube stations and fans are often reliant on the service but a statement on Ranger's website read: 'Supporters are advised to allow extra time for their journeys to and from Loftus Road.

'Buses will be running on the usual Sunday/Bank Holiday service on the day of the fixture, whilst parking in the borough will be free.

Christmas cheer Arsenal are facing a tricky festive period

Christmas cheer Arsenal are facing a tricky festive period

'Supporters who are unable to attend the fixture owing to the Tube strikes will be entitled to a full refund.'

Fulham will wait for official confirmation of the Tube strike before deciding if any action needs to be taken over their Boxing Day match with Southampton at Craven Cottage.

A club spokesman said: 'We are monitoring situation and putting contingency in place but remain fully committed to the game going ahead as scheduled.'

Fulham play Swansea three days later.

Charlton are the only Championship side hosting a Boxing Day fixture in the capital but it is understood their match with Ipswich should not be too badly disrupted and will go ahead. Most home fans travel in from Kent rather than central London.

Derailed: Fans will have find it difficult to get across the capital

Derailed: Fans will have find it difficult to get across the capital

The announcement by Aslef means
London Underground drivers are on course to walk out on Boxing Day, as
well as January 18 and 25 in a row over bank holiday pay. It will be the
third successive Christmas walkout by Tube drivers.

The
move was announced after Aslef members voted by 9-1 in favour of
strikes. A spokesman said: 'The ballot result shows the strength of
feeling that remains on this issue.'

United States Grand Prix 2012: Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso

Vettel and Alonso go down to the wire as F1 circus rolls into America

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 16 November 2012

To paraphrase Mr Blair, it is not only the hand of history that Sebastian Vettel feels on his shoulder this weekend, but the rucksack that completes the gap-year student look.

With his grungy hair, trainers and shorts, the uninitiated might think Vettel is travelling across the States on 50 dollars a week.

But by the time darkness closes in tomorrow night over what has so far proved an unseasonably chilly Austin, Vettel could share an accolade with the two most-decorated drivers of them all, Michael Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio.

On track: Sebastian Vettel could win the drivers' championship this weekend

On track: Sebastian Vettel could win the drivers' championship this weekend

Each won the world drivers’ championship three years on the spin, the feat that beckons Vettel in this American Grand Prix. Schumacher got the hat-trick at 33; Fangio at 45. Vettel is 25.

Vettel hardly needs the history lesson. He devours the statistics of his sport voraciously, not least to inform him what records he has to beat. During his regular backgammon games with Bernie Ecclestone, he not only receives the occasional beating on the board but also quizzes the sport’s wise old owl about days of yore.

The figures that really count going into tomorrow’s race, the penultimate round, concern the 10-point lead Vettel, of Red Bull, holds over Fernando Alonso, of Ferrari. A total of 50 points are available in Austin and in Sao Paulo next week. Should the leader outscore the pursuer here by 15 points, the title is his.

If, as I believe, Alonso is the most complete driver, wringing the neck of a Ferrari marginally inferior to the Red Bull, his brilliance is also a testament to the skills of Vettel, who is taking on a 31-year-old at the peak of his powers. ‘Alonso is the most experienced, quickest and most together driver,’ Niki Lauda, the plain-speaking three-time world champion, told Sportsmail. ‘I do not try to become friends with the drivers. I do not bother with that bull****. I am objective.

Giving chase: Fernando Alonso remains in the hunt for a third title of his own

Giving chase: Fernando Alonso remains in the hunt for a third title of his own

Giving chase: Fernando Alonso remains in the hunt for a third title of his own

‘In terms of speed and the rest of it, Vettel and Alonso are exactly the same. But if the s*** hits the fan, Alonso will always be fighting for the best result. He makes no mistakes under a lot of pressure. That makes him so strong.

‘Vettel can make a mistake when he is on the edge. But in one of the next two races, I expect Vettel to be world champion — Alonso’s Ferrari is not as quick as the Red Bull.

‘Lewis Hamilton is as quick as those guys. He is definitely the most aggressive driver. He doesn’t make mistakes any more. He would have won the last race in Abu Dhabi easily before his McLaren had a mechanical problem. All three are as good as the top guys in the old days but comparisons are difficult because then the risk was higher. A mistake could kill you.’

Alonso declared himself more relaxed and confident than when he won the title in 2005 and 2006, and in all but one of the years, 2010, when he fought unavailingly for the honour. Both men, sitting side by side on the stage this week, were calmness personified.

There was no verbal jousting. This is
not Senna-Prost or even Alonso-Hamilton. Yes, Alonso can be fiery — we
once saw him sling his helmet through a door — but Vettel is hardly the
central casting villain Schumacher was. There is little of that
thin-lipped Teutonic arrogance about Sebastian.

A little less conversation: Alonso (left) and Vettel will resume rivalries on Sunday

A little less conversation: Alonso (left) and Vettel will resume rivalries on Sunday

He lives quietly on a farm near Zurich with his school love, Hannah, a student whom he protects from the spotlight. He does not even employ a manager.

‘Sebastian brings chocolates for the receptionist every time he visits the factory,’ said team principal Christian Horner, who also stands on another verge of history: Red Bull need just five points for him to join only Jean Todt, then of Ferrari, and McLaren’s Ron Dennis (twice) in masterminding three consecutive constructors’ titles.

It would be just one of several events in Texas this week. One is that Schumacher has bought a 250-acre ranch an hour north of Dallas as a part-time retreat and full-time horse-breeding stud.

Another may occur at the first corner of this barely dry new circuit. The front cars will arrive near a blind apex from a short sprint; the back ones from a long, speed-generating run-up. Drama awaits.

So does history for Vettel, who after his usual veal and rice will contest a lunchtime race against Alonso for immortality in their generation’s motor-racing story.

Grand Prix

Indian Grand Prix 2012: Fernando Alonso earns praise

Vettel wins in India but Alonso takes plaudits to keep title challenge alive

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 28 October 2012

Hands up, we British journalists did our share of turning Fernando Alonso into a pantomime villain when he and Lewis Hamilton spent a vicious year together at McLaren.

Team-mates Hardly. Alonso, rattled by his upstart rival, was full of tantrums and truculence. So he deserved most of this approbation he got. But today we can lavish him with praise.

No, Ferrari’s honoured son did not win Sunday’s Indian Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel, in serene command of his superior Red Bull, did that, opening up his lead at the top of the championship to 13 points with three races remaining. But Alonso, the runner-up, is surely still the man who deserves the world title.

Main man: Fernando Alonso celebrates finishing second in the Indian Grand Prix

Main man: Fernando Alonso celebrates finishing second in the Indian Grand Prix

Some in the sport argue that whoever wins the championship is inevitably the best driver. Not always. Vettel’s car, designed by the master, Adrian Newey, is clearly the fastest. A measure of that is that Red Bull have locked out the front row of the grid in the last three qualifying sessions.

So once Vettel had navigated the first corner in the lead on Sunday, he had a clear road to victory. The German accomplished the feat faultlessly, making him the first driver since Ayrton Senna in 1989 to lead every lap for three consecutive races.

No 1: Sebastian Vettel won again

No 1: Sebastian Vettel won again

Vettel is a brilliant driver but the
argument for Alonso is simply that he is surpassing the equipment he is
sitting in with a skill and tenacity currently unmatched. Those
qualities took him up the field from sixth on the grid — a reflection of
Ferrari’s true one-lap pace.

He wrestled his way past both British drivers and zipped by Vettel’s team-mate Mark Webber, who was suffering from an intermittent KERS system that finally stopped working altogether and meant he finished third.

What is at stake is important. Both Vettel and Alonso are double world champions in search of the third title that confers legendary status.

Another rightful rival for the laurels of their era, Lewis Hamilton, the British driver Alonso recently credited with being able to win races in a sub-standard car, made his views clear.

‘It’s not for me to say but if I was watching TV I think this year Fernando has driven so well; more so than anyone else here,’ said the McLaren man, whose fourth, a place ahead of team-mate Jenson Button, means he must win the last three races to stand even a theoretical chance of the title.

‘Sebastian has stepped up a lot at the end of the year with the improvements on his car. But Fernando is still pushing. Today he just drove phenomenally well and he’s holding on, still. For me, he really is a three or four-time world champion.’

So what are we to make of stories that Vettel has agreed to join Ferrari for 2014 ‘Bull**** on the BBC website,’ said Vettel’s team principal, Christian Horner. Vettel also used the bovine and manure terminology.

Fighting back: Alonso overtook both McLaren drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button in India

Fighting back: Alonso overtook both McLaren drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button in India

One theory says that Vettel is going nowhere: Ferrari favour an outright No 1 driver and Alonso is that man.

Yet the source in this instance is Italian and so far impeccable in such matters. Sportsmail sources suggest Vettel has signed some sort of agreement, with ifs and buts.

For now Alonso, though trailing in the table, is Ferrari’s jewel in the smog.

Indian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton will put the breaks on Sebastian Vettel"s charge to the title

Hamilton will put the brakes on Vettel's charge to his third straight Formula One title

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UPDATED:

21:04 GMT, 27 October 2012

Lewis Hamilton's own title race may
be run, but he expects to play a pivotal role in the title duel between
Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso at the Indian Grand Prix.

After winning the three previous
races, Vettel has leapfrogged Alonso to lead the championship by six
points ahead of the showdown at the Buddh Circuit outside Delhi.

With just four races left – in India,
Abu Dhabi, Texas and Brazil – Vettel's search for a third consecutive
world title was undeniably improved yesterday when he claimed pole
position, while Alonso had to settle for fifth in his Ferrari.

Still a role: Lewis Hamilton is hoping to overhaul the Red Bull drivers in India

Still a role: Lewis Hamilton is hoping to overhaul the Red Bull drivers in India

Alonso's only good fortune is that Hamilton, running the clock down on his days as a McLaren driver, feels that from third place he can cause some discomfort for Vettel and his team-mate, Mark Webber, who secured the front row for Red Bull for the third consecutive race, a new milestone for the team from Milton Keynes.

Last night, Hamilton said: 'We are not quick enough to be ahead of these guys, but we can definitely challenge them in the race. Our race pace in practice was as good as theirs, so I am excited about that.

'If we can get a good start and have a good fight with these guys, then hopefully [we will have] a better race than the last few ones we did. I think third position gives us a fighting chance to win tomorrow. Seb has more to worry about than I do.'

Helping hand: Fernando Alonso will have to be at his best to win the championship

Helping hand: Fernando Alonso will have to be at his best to win the championship

Alonso, who spent an acrimonious year alongside Hamilton at McLaren in 2007, has to hope his old nemesis is as good as his word, for Vettel has once again benefited from the genius of Englishman Adrian Newey, the technical director of Red Bull. Under Newey's direction, the upgraded Red Bull cars have assumed an unassailable advantage in double-quick time.

'At the moment, we are not fighting only against Sebastian,' said Alonso, whose relationship with Hamilton will put the brakes on Vettel's charge to the title Hamilton is based on mutual respect these days.

'We are also fighting against Newey. Red Bull has finished first or second in the last four races. I think it is more challenging for us, but I remain 100 per cent confident that we will fight for this championship, and we will win it.'

Pole position: Sebastian Vettel is aiming for a third consecutive championship

Pole position: Sebastian Vettel is aiming for a third consecutive championship

Ferrari have alienated India's public by displaying the flag of the Italian navy on their cars in solidarity for two of their marines being held in custody in southern India after shooting two local fishermen when mistaking them for pirates.

Alonso will be oblivious to the political fall-out, however. He just hopes through his own devices, and possible assistance from Hamilton and his McLaren team-mate Jenson Button, to keep Vettel in sight.

For Hamilton, this is a race offering an opportunity to deliver his 21st grand prix win as a parting gift to McLaren.

Unfortunately, Hamilton's performances have been compromised this season, at times by poorly managed pit-stops, or, perhaps worst of all, through a calamitous misjudgment over short-fuelling him in Barcelona which relegated him from pole position to last on the grid. Mechanical gremlins have harmed him, too.

Yet Hamilton, 27, has also made mistakes. What did he imagine he would gain from tweeting the telemetry from his qualifying lap, drawing comparisons to the performance of Button's car on his flying lap, at the Belgian Grand Prix

That action isolated him within McLaren and deeply disappointed Button. But a victory in Formula One changes much, not least the memories of those involved.

And Hamilton's message before he went to work was upbeat and unequivocal: 'We have the race pace to be able to stay with the Red Bulls, so, as I say, a win is definitely possible.'

Vettel made a rare driving error. He strayed from the racing line on his first qualifying lap, missed the apex at Turn Four completely and looked for a moment like a rookie, not a man with an astonishing 25 victories from just 97 races in Formula One.

The burden of history Vettel is carrying as a passenger in his car is the realisation that only Juan Mauel Fangio and Michael Schumacher have ever won three F1 titles in consecutive years.

'I was a bit too greedy into Turn Four,' said Vettel, after returning to the circuit with nerve unaffected to take pole from Webber.

Outwardly calm, he knows there is still much to play for – and much to lose.

'I know McLaren and Ferrari will be pushing hard,' said Vettel, an old head on young shoulders.

Jerome D"Ambrosio takes seat in Lotus for Italian Grand Prix

D'Ambrosio takes seat in Lotus for Monza in place of crash-causing Grosjean

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UPDATED:

19:55 GMT, 4 September 2012

Lotus have confirmed reserve driver Jerome D'Ambrosio will replace the banned Romain Grosjean for this weekend's Italian Grand Prix.

Grosjean was punished severely for sparking a four car pile-up at the start of Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix that also took out the Ferrari of championship leader Fernando Alonso, McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and Sauber of Sergio Perez.

Team principal Eric Boullier confirmed immediately after the stewards had handed out the ban he was '80 per cent certain' Belgian D'Ambrosio would partner Kimi Raikkonen at Monza.

Pile-up: Romain Grosjean has been banned for one race for causing this frightening crash at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa last Sunday

Pile-up: Romain Grosjean has been banned for one race for causing this frightening crash at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa last Sunday

Boullier has now firmly made up his mind, ensuring D'Ambrosio will line up in a race for the first time since the end of last season when he drove for Virgin Racing, now Marussia.

A delighted D'Ambrosio said: 'My desire for 2012 has always been to get back into the seat of a Formula One, car so I am grabbing this opportunity with both hands.

Phil Duncan F1 blog

'As third driver, I have worked with the team at every grand prix, attending all the briefings and meetings that the race drivers do, so I am well prepared in this respect.

'I want to reward the faith the team has in me with a good haul of points from the race.'

Boullier is convinced D'Ambrosio has the talent, and with the car beneath him as Raikkonen is currently fourth in the standings, is expecting the 26-year-old to deliver.

'When we signed Jerome as our third driver we signed a man who is highly motivated, fresh, talented and who contested the full 2011 season,' said Boullier.

'Now he has the challenge of a grand prix at the challenging circuit of Monza, in a car which is capable of finishing on the podium.'

British Grand Prix 2012: Chaos for drivers and fans despite 40m facelift

Silver storm! Chaos for F1 drivers and fans at British Grand Prix despite 40m facelift

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UPDATED:

20:57 GMT, 6 July 2012

It was fine for the British Racing
Drivers’ Club man under his plastic canopy. He was steering a buggy that
took the blazers, their wives and families, friends and other assorted
liggers from a sodden car park to the sanctuary of the club house.

Stop to ask the driver — waiting and
empty at the front of his articulated carriage — if he would kindly give
you a lift and he would decline. You may have paid 155 for the
privilege of getting soaked to the bone but a helping hand from the
hosts was beyond his generosity.

Wet and wild: Romain Grosjean struggles to keep his Lotus on the track

Wet and wild: Romain Grosjean struggles to keep his Lotus on the track

Wet and wild: Romain Grosjean struggles to keep his Lotus on the track

Welcome to Silverstone in 2012. They spend 40million on a facelift but not everything has changed.
As was the case 12 years ago, the failings of drainage rendered the old airfield a quagmire. Cars queued for six hours on the A43 and some of those who reached the gates were turned away or redirected. Even fans with parking passes were rejected.

The helicopter that was due to bring in Mark Webber, the Red Bull driver who lives in nearby Aston Clinton, could not take off, so a scooter was sent out to enable him to weave through the queues. He arrived in his race overalls, ready for action.

Meanwhile, in Silverstone’s mission control with its myriad televisions, you could watch Wimbledon. Federer was breaking Djokovic in the fourth set on one screen and the punters were bumper to bumper on another. Strawberries and cream, anyone

Home favourites: Hamilton (above) and Button below kick up spray on the Silverstone track

Home favourites: Hamilton (above) and Button below kick up spray on the Silverstone track

Home favourites: Hamilton (above) and Button below kick up spray on the Silverstone track

Katie Tyler, the unlucky communications
lady left to explain the squelchy farrago, was astonishingly candid.
‘It’s a nightmare,’ she admitted. ‘We know we’ve got a problem. We know
it’s serious.
‘We need to look into all the factors and what we can do to minimise
something like this happening again — probably move abroad.’

It is a rotten summer, admittedly, and some fans bizarrely showed up
without tickets, but still nothing that Silverstone’s management or the
circuit’s owners, the BRDC, tried yesterday did much to dismiss Bernie
Ecclestone’s acerbic description of the place as ‘a country fair
masquerading as a world-class event.’ That was in 2000 when the place
was last a mud bath on this gigantic scale.

Silverstone spent 1million on its traffic management scheme this year
and have laid down an extra mile of drains. It hardly seems money well
spent. ‘That is what’s so frustrating, that we’d almost got over the
hangover of 2000,’ added Tyler.

The compensatory spectacle for the soaked masses — 125,000 are expected
tomorrow — is the prospect of a wet race. Thrills and spills await. And
even better, our two principal British drivers, Lewis Hamilton and
Jenson Button, are proven and accomplished winners in slippery
conditions.

Saturated: Stewards work to sweep water of the track

Saturated: Stewards work to sweep water of the track

Record crowd: The weather did not prevent fans from flocking to Northamptonshire

Record crowd: The weather did not prevent fans from flocking to Northamptonshire

Record crowd: The weather did not prevent fans from flocking to Northamptonshire

Yesterday there was marginally more action on the track during practice
than on the surrounding roads, even if it was deplorably sporadic and
shower-dodging. Button, the McLaren driver who is staying in a camper
van that sank into the ground up to its axle, is perhaps the man with
most to prove here this weekend.

He has never won the British Grand Prix and is in the biggest slump of
the mature phase of his career. However, he appeared relaxed. In fact,
his manner and bearing in front of us press men was charming after the
truculence shown by his team-mate Hamilton in the same seat a few
minutes earlier.

The question has been asked whether, at 32 with a world championships
title at home, Button is settling back into happy contentment, the drive
gone. I doubt that. That is not in his nature.

It is a view shared by the respected Sky pundit Martin Brundle. ‘I think
Jenson is hurting like mad,’ he said. ‘I have seen him a couple of
times where he has been really grumpy and unhappy. You don’t want to
show your competitors that. Jenson is smart enough not to do that but
this is painful, big time.’

Tough test: Rain is forecast throughout the weekend

Tough test: Rain is forecast throughout the weekend

Tough test: Rain is forecast throughout the weekend

Technically, Button struggles to get the Pirelli tyres at the right
operating temperature, with Brundle adding: ‘It is clear that a more
aggressive driver might have an advantage this year when it comes to
getting the tyres into that temperature window. Jenson has a very, very
distinctive, economical and precise style of driving.

‘That is one of his greatest strengths but at times it becomes one of
his greatest weaknesses. Whereas I think Fernando Alonso and Hamilton
can drive around the problem, you very rarely see Jenson slinging the
car around like his team-mate. These tyres will continue to hurt him.’

Hamilton is the McLaren driver in form. He was fastest in practice
yesterday, for what it is worth. Button was sixth quickest in the
afternoon session, having been 17th in the morning.

A rule should be introduced compelling cars to run for most of the
three scheduled hours on Fridays, unless the weather is so horrendous
that serious danger is probable. Otherwise nobody is going to take the
risk of running when so little technical information can be garnered.
The fans suffer.

For all the gloom, this is the seesaw season that has saved itself at
every turn. My one, slightly counterintuitive wish for the next few
months is that the egalitarian spread of seven winners from eight races
ends, only because epic stories are ultimately shaped by head-to-head
rivalries.

We think in excelsis of Prost v Senna. Button v Hamilton would do nicely.

Wings for Life: Webber sits in his the charity-sponsored Red Bull car

Wings for Life: Webber sits in the charity-sponsored Red Bull car

Wings for Life: Webber sits in his the charity-sponsored Red Bull car

British Grand Prix 2012: Wet conditions at Silverstone practice

Wet and wild! Drivers struggle in treacherous conditions at Silverstone practice in front of record crowd

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UPDATED:

12:34 GMT, 6 July 2012

The expected heavy rain and grey skies dominated first practice ahead of Sunday's British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Remarkably, the atrocious weather failed to dampen the enthusiasm of many of the fans, with a record 80,000 for a Friday looking on.

Those under the grandstands would have been naturally welcome of the shelter, but those in the open air were subjected to a non-stop deluge throughout the 90 minutes as they huddled under umbrellas.

Wet and wild: Vitaly Petrov (above) and Romain Grosjean (below) struggle to keep their cars on track

Wet and wild: Vitaly Petrov (above) and Romain Grosjean (below) struggle to keep their cars on track

Wet and wild: Romain Grosjean struggles to keep his Lotus on the track

When the session began the rain was relatively light, allowing the majority of the field an opportunity to get out on track.

Ordinarily, wet weather on many other circuits around the world would result in the drivers opting to sit in the garage knowing warmer, drier climes would be on the way.

But with more rain forecast across the weekend as Britain's sorry summer evolves into the wettest on record, there was a case to at least get some laps under their belts.

Home favourites: Hamilton (above) and Button below kick up spray on the Silverstone track

Home favourites: Hamilton (above) and Button below kick up spray on the Silverstone track

Home favourites: Hamilton (above) and Button below kick up spray on the Silverstone track

Unfortunately, the rain grew in intensity as the session wore on, resulting in the teams and drivers deciding to avoid the worst of the conditions.

Appreciably there were a number who spun through the puddles, fortunately without accident.

As Marussia's Timo Glock jokingly remarked: 'Bit of swimming today. Only six laps in FP1. UK weather is unreal.'

It has to be remembered, as teams only have three sets of full wet Pirelli tyres for a weekend, they were taking precautions not to do too much running and so waste their rubber.

Saturated: Stewards work to sweep water of the track

Saturated: Stewards work to sweep water of the track

Come the conclusion it was Lotus' Romain Grosjean at the top of a largely irrelevant timesheet, even for a Friday, with a lap of one minute 56.552secs, completing the second-highest total of 13 laps.

Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo was 0.275secs adrift, with Lewis Hamilton in his McLaren the only other driver to finish within a second of Grosjean, the home hero 0.622secs down.

For the record, Sauber's Sergio Perez was 1.112secs behind with Felipe Massa in his Ferrari and Red Bull's Mark Webber 1.567secs and 1.911secs off the pace.

Record crowd: The weather did not prevent fans from flocking to Northamptonshire

Record crowd: The weather did not prevent fans from flocking to Northamptonshire

Record crowd: The weather did not prevent fans from flocking to Northamptonshire

Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi and Michael Schumacher for Mercedes were also inside two seconds of Grosjean, with the former managing 19 laps, but also under investigation by the stewards for a pit-lane entry infringement.

Reigning double world champion Sebastian Vettel was 2.862secs down in 11th, with McLaren's Jenson Button over five seconds adrift in 17th.

Tough test: Rain is forecast throughout the weekend

Tough test: Rain is forecast throughout the weekend

Tough test: Rain is forecast throughout the weekend

Current championship leader Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari and the Force India duo of Paul di Resta and reserve Jules Bianchi, standing in for Nico Hulkenberg, all failed to set a time as they managed four, three and one installation lap respectively.

Beyond the track it became clear Silverstone's traffic management system, given a 1million upgrade for this year, was falling apart as many fans were Tweeting about the horrors of being stuck in stationary traffic, missing out on the first session.

Meanwhile, Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber unveiled their Wings for Life cars ahead of this weekend's British Grand Prix.

Both will drive their specially-branded RB8s, which each feature more than 25,000 photos that have been sent in by fans, throughout the race weekend.

Wings for Life: Webber sits in his the charity-sponsored Red Bull car

Wings for Life: Webber sits in the charity-sponsored Red Bull car

Wings for Life: Webber sits in his the charity-sponsored Red Bull car

Organised for Wings for Life, the charity that is striving to find a cure for spinal cord injury, the initiative was open to fans all over the world who wanted to race with Webber and Vettel at this year's Silverstone race and support an incredible cause.

F1 Bernie Ecclestone unveils plan for 100m London race, but is it just a dream?

Ecclestone unveils plan for 100m London GP, but is it just a dream

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UPDATED:

00:36 GMT, 29 June 2012

On a good day, a motorist would be lucky to go any faster than 8mph driving past Big Ben in the capital’s congested streets.

But under plans unveiled by Formula
One supremo Bernie Ecclestone to bring a grand prix to the capital,
racing cars could streak past some of the most famous landmarks at up to
180mph.

Cities normally pay the 30-
35million cost of staging F1 races, but Ecclestone has said he is
prepared to waive the costs — as he will be likely to recoup more than
100m from sales to some 120,000 paying spectators on the route and the
sale of TV rights and advertising.

On track: Lewis Hamilton (left) and Jenson Button attend the launch of the London Grand Prix

On track: Lewis Hamilton (left) and Jenson Button attend the launch of the London Grand Prix

Watch the video

Up
to a billion people worldwide could watch the event along the 3.2mile
route, which some believe would eclipse the most famous street race in
the world, the Monaco Grand Prix.

Ecclestone
has dreamt of holding a race in the capital’s streets for years, but
has been blocked by bureaucracy and reluctance to spend public funds on
the race. He said: ‘With the way things are maybe we would front it and
put the money up for it.

‘It would be fantastic, good for London, good for England — a lot better than the Olympics.’

He
made his comments on the same day the Serious Fraud Office said it was
investigating allegations during a trial in Germany that Ecclestone made
corrupt payments of 28.3m to German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky.
Ecclestone denies offering any bribes.

Sceptics
have dismissed the London plans as a PR stunt to promote Santander, who
sponsor the McLaren team which employs British drivers Lewis Hamilton
and Jenson Button.

Need for speed: Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton present their view racing around the streets during the proposed London Grand Prix

Need for speed: Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton present their view racing around the streets – passing iconic landmarks such as Big Ben – during the proposed London Grand Prix (below)

London calling: The 35million race could bring in as much as 100m across a three-day grand prix weekend

Phil Duncan F1 blog

It is true the event brings the kind of publicity PR consultants dream about and Santander could not have imagined Ecclestone would take up their original idea in such spectacular fashion.

Invited guests to Thursday night’s
‘launch’ of the grand prix at the Royal Automobile Club in Pall Mall
were tempted along by the tag-line: ‘Ever imagined what a London Grand
Prix might look like Jenson and Lewis have.’

Indeed,
the pair were called upon to help design parts of the track and were
shown in a CGI simulation blasting through the streets of London.

Even
Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand and TV presenter
Melanie Sykes were treated to a go in the simulator. Whatever
Ecclestone’s motivation he was doubtless delighted that Hamilton was
quickly on message. ‘I was looking over the city and a grand prix here
would be the best thing in the world, the biggest event,’ he said. ‘It
would be sensational. It’d be insane.’

a capital idea or the pits.jpg

London Mayor Boris Johnson was keen to offer his views now that Ecclestone had offered to stump up the cash. ‘I am always interested in projects that attract jobs and bring growth,’ said Johnson, adding it was important to see if there was ‘a really good economic case’ for the project.

But how many times have we heard about a possible London Grand Prix Who better to answer that than Sir Stirling Moss ‘I’d love to see it but they have been talking about it since I was racing in the 1960s,’ he said. ‘It’s a wonderful dream.’

Dreamland was exactly where Santander’s publicity machine was residing last night.

Jenson Button dismisses Mugello testing

Testing is pointless! McLaren's Button dismisses Mugello session

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UPDATED:

17:19 GMT, 26 April 2012

Jenson Button does not believe being in Mugello next week will be a worthwhile exercise.

McLaren last week announced test drivers Gary Paffett and Oliver Turvey would be on duty for the team at Formula One's first in-season test since 2008.

However, following his disappointing eighth-placed finish in the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, Lewis Hamilton suggested he might alter his plans and head to Italy for the May 1-3 session.

Waste of time: Jenson Button has no plans to take part in testing

Waste of time: Jenson Button has no plans to take part in testing

Two bungled pit stops cost Hamilton dear, in particular his lead in the drivers' championship to reigning champion in Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel.

Following the race Hamilton said: 'If there are things to test or figure out I will be the one to do it, not let someone else do it.'

As yet, McLaren have not altered their test plans, although there is the prospect of a last-minute change should Hamilton wish.

Game over: Button was forced to retire from the Bahrain Grand Prix

Game over: Button was forced to retire from the Bahrain Grand Prix

For his part, Button sees no point in taking part as he said: 'The reason why we're not there is because we've never been to Mugello before.

'I don't really think we will be a benefit because there aren't any massive updates to try.

'For the test drivers to put some miles on parts and try some very extreme things, then I think it's good, but it's not necessary for us to be there.'