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F1 Williams team leader Sir Frank gives job to his daughter

Mother's delight: Daughter Claire is Williams' new boss after mum's blessing

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Daddy's girl: Sir Frank Williams with his daughter Claire at the Spanish Grand Prix in 2012


‘I think it will make team
principals’ meetings quite interesting having two women there — I don’t
know how, but it will change the dynamic,’ said Claire, who will
represent the team when Sir Frank, who is still team principal despite
turning 71 next month, does not travel to races.

‘While I am pleased to have got where I have as a woman, it should be about merit.’

Claire, 36, has come through the media side of motor racing after taking a politics degree from Newcastle University.

Immersed in the sport all her life,
she was a press officer at Silverstone before moving to Williams in
2002, and has now been handed her fourth promotion in three years.

Her last job was as director of
marketing and communications, a role that involved bringing in revenue.
All the team’s current backers have re-signed, several of them on
increased terms.

She will continue to look after the
business side of Williams — a team desperately striving to reprise the
glory days of the Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost and Damon Hill eras.

After a few depressing years, the team
staged something of a renaissance in 2012, but they have struggled
again this season — neither Pastor Maldonado nor Valtteri Bottas has
registered a point in the first two races.

Much to ponder: Williams team principal Sir Frank during a practice session

Much to ponder: Williams team principal Sir Frank during a practice session

Claire, whose boyfriend Andrew Murdoch
is Maldonado’s race engineer at the team’s Oxfordshire headquarters, is
unfazed by the flux of senior staff in the last year, drawing
inspiration from her stern apprenticeship.

‘Frank appreciates hard work,’ she said. ‘He whipped my a*** when I first came here.

‘He showed me no favours — quite the
opposite. I had to prove myself. If there is something that needs wiping
up you get the brush out yourself and do it yourself. That is the ethos
at Williams.’

Sir Frank, one of the paddock’s great fighters, will appreciate the sentiment.

England set to face Eben Etzebeth after lock cleared of gouging offence

England set to face Enforcer Etzebeth after lock cleared of gouging offence



23:16 GMT, 21 November 2012

The new Enforcer: Eben Etzebeth

The new Enforcer: Eben Etzebeth

South Africa are banking on Eben Etzebeth, dubbed the 'enforcer' by head coach Heyneke Meyer, to maintain his dominance against England on Saturday.

The 6ft 8in lock was cleared to play at Twickenham after a four-hour hearing found him not guilty of an eye gouging offence against Scotland last Saturday.

Meyer emphasised the importance of the 21-year-old, who is looked upon as a replacement for World Cup winner Bakkies Botha, when he announced the same team that beat Scotland.

‘It’s great to have him back,’ Meyer said after Etzebeth missed training on Tuesday to plead successfully that any contact with the eye area of Scotland fly half Greig Laidlaw had been an accident.

Meyer claimed Etzebeth had become one of the world’s best locks in a very short period of time, having only made his debut this June in the series against England. So far on this tour, in games against Ireland and Scotland, he has not lost a line-out.

The eyes have it: Etzebeth clashes with Ireland lock Donnacha Ryan

The eyes have it: Etzebeth clashes with Ireland lock Donnacha Ryan

‘He’s really grown as an individual and is one of the enforcers in the team. He’s a physical guy and he brings a physical element to the pack even though he is a youngster,’ Meyer explained.

Meyer quashed talk among Springbok fans that the Etzebeth case had been some kind of conspiracy to upset his team, because the citing officer had been an Englishman, Alan Mansell.

‘The guy was just doing his job,’ Meyer said. ‘We were happy to go there to prove he (Etzebeth) was not guilty.'

South Africa team v England

Kirchner (Blue Bulls); Pietersen (Sharks), de Jongh (Western Province), de Villiers (Western Province, capt), Hougaard (Blue Bulls); Lambie (Sharks), Pienaar (Ulster); Steenkamp (Toulouse), Strauss (Free State), du Plessis (Sharks), Etzebeth (Western Province), Kruger (Blue Bulls), Louw (Bath), Alberts (Sharks), Vermeulen (Western Province).

Subs: Brits (Saracens), H van der Merwe (Leinster), Cilliers (Western Province), F van der Merwe (Blue Bulls), Coetzee (Sharks), Jantjies (Golden Lions), Taute (Golden Lions), Mvovo (Sharks).

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales).

Meyer said he had eased back on training this week because some of his players had looked jaded after a long season.

‘This last game is going to be a very tough game. But, having said that, I want these guys to really dig deep to have one more great performance out of them.

‘But I have to say that I am worried. I can see the guys mentally that it has been a long season. But these guys are warriors and really want to play for their country.’

South Africa have one injury doubt in wing JP Pietersen. He suffered a hamstring strain in the 21-10 win over Scotland and has been given until Friday to prove his fitness.

Can the truce between Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button survive for five races?

Can the fragile truce between Hamilton and Button at McLaren survive for five races



19:20 GMT, 12 October 2012

Having overcome the first threat to
team harmony since Lewis Hamilton announced he was joining Mercedes, a
fragile truce has been established at McLaren.

Jenson Button was exasperated by his team-mate’s ‘disrespect’ Twitter gaffe after last week’s Japanese
Grand Prix but with five races left before Hamilton leaves, there is
plenty of time for further problems to arise between the pair.

Determined: Jenson Button (left) wants to help McLaren win the constructors title

Determined: Jenson Button (left) wants to help McLaren win the constructors title

Their relationship has been in decline since Hamilton pulled a bold move on his team-mate in China last year, leaving Button with no option but to move aside or collide. He chose the former.

Four races later, on a wet track in Canada, Button closed the door on Hamilton as he tried to repeat the move, dumping him into the pit wall and out of the race.

Button won in Montreal against all the odds, proving he wasn’t prepared to be elbowed out of the way by Hamilton, on the track or off it.

Vrroom: Button says the constructors title is his big aim

Vrroom: Button says the constructors title is his big aim

Phil Duncan F1 blog

Having spent two years at Williams with
David Coulthard as a team-mate, Damon Hill knows all about the pressure
that comes with an all-British line-up in a British team, and admires
the way Button and Hamilton have held it together.

‘The idea that you are in the same team is a nice one and teams try to
give the impression their drivers are working together,’ said Hill. ‘But
your most significant rival is your team-mate, always.

‘Drivers have become more sophisticated in understanding PR. At
Williams, Nelson Piquet didn’t exactly love Nigel Mansell! In some ways
it was more honest but it also got quite ugly.

‘Drivers are better these days but you cannot pretend it is all sweetness and light between them.

‘There will always be tension. But as team-mates go, Lewis and Jenson
have behaved brilliantly. They have had mutual respect for each other.’

Chance: Lewis Hamilton (left) could still win the title

Chance: Lewis Hamilton (left) could still win the title

Time will tell whether that respect lasts until the end of the season.

There are not many genuine friendships within Formula One, although
Button and Force India driver Paul di Resta are an exception.

‘It is hard when you are competing,’ said Hill. ‘They avoid each other
because it makes life simpler. But there is camaraderie and a sense you
share something in common with the people that you race with.’

As they prepare for tomorrow’s South Korean Grand Prix, however, whether
Button has much left to say to Hamilton is another matter.

l Watch live coverage of the Korean Grand Prix on Sky Sports F1HD.

Raring to go: Hamilton practicing for the Korean Grand Prix

Raring to go: Hamilton practicing for the Korean Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel takes pole for Canadian Grand Prix

Vettel takes pole in qualifying for Canadian Grand Prix with Hamilton in second



18:52 GMT, 9 June 2012

Sebastian Vettel superbly grabbed the 32nd pole position of his Formula One career and second in succession ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix.

Reigning world champion Vettel proved to be the class act in qualifying, crushing his rivals around Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in his Red Bull.

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton again lines up on the front row, but the 27-year-old found himself three tenths of a second adrift of Vettel's hot lap of a one minute 13.784secs.

No 1: Sebastian Vettel will start in pole position

No 1: Sebastian Vettel will start in pole position

The pole elevates Vettel up to fifth in the all-time standings, and he now stands alongside Nigel Mansell, with only Michael Schumacher, Ayrton Senna, Jim Clark and Alain Prost ahead of him, the latter duo with 33 poles.

Championship leader in Ferrari's Fernando Alonso starts third as he failed to pip Hamilton at the death, followed by the Red Bull of recent Monaco Grand Prix winner Mark Webber.

Phil Duncan F1 blog

Mercedes' Nico Rosberg starts sixth ahead of Felipe Massa in his Ferrari and Lotus of Romain Grosjean, with Paul di Resta in his Force India a stunning eighth, equalling his second best grid slot of his F1 career.

In ninth and 10th are Mercedes' Schumacher and Jenson Button in his McLaren, the latter in the top 10 for the first time in three races, but continuing to struggle and on a circuit where he won in dramatic fashion a year ago.

Button narrowly had survived Q2, but only by eight thousandths of a second to Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi who will start 11th.

In the dying stages of the middle 15-minute session it appeared as if Williams' Pastor Maldonado would be the man to drop Button out of the top for the third consecutive race.

But after going fastest of all in the first sector, and pushing to the limit, he clipped the Wall of Champions coming out of the final turn, sending him into a 360 degree spin and only 17th.

Top three: Vettel with Fernando Alonso (left) and Lewis Hamilton (right)

Top three: Vettel with Fernando Alonso (left) and Lewis Hamilton (right)

Kimi Raikkonen's awful weekend to date continued as he could only grab 12th, comfortably behind team-mate Grosjean.

It was a similar situation for Force India's Nico Hulkenberg – who starts 13th, 0.109secs behind the Scot.

Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo lines up 15th, with Bruno Senna in his Williams 16th ahead of the unfortunate Maldonado.

In temperatures of 25 degrees centigrade, and under clear blue skies to assist all the cars, the initial 20 minutes was fairly straightforward.

There was, however, a bit of consternation from inside McLaren as they felt the need to strap on the faster supersoft tyres for a run to guarantee their place in Q2.

Such concerns proved unfounded as Heikki Kovalainen in 18th was comfortably slower than the time set by Hamilton and Button on the soft compound.

It means both drivers have now used an additional set of tyres for this weekend, which could have a knock-on effect for the race.

For Caterham, there was a success of sorts as both Kovalainen and team-mate Vitaly Petrov outqualified a Toro Rosso as Jean-Eric Vergne showed no pace on either tyre and will start 20th.

Below the Frenchman on the grid will be the HRTs of Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan in 21st and 24th sandwiching Marussia duo Timo Glock and Charles Pic.

Zoom: Vettel performed superbly

Zoom: Vettel performed superbly

A smiling Vettel said: 'We've had a fantastic weekend. Yesterday was very smooth with no problems.

'We've learned some lessons of late because we've been quick on a Sunday, but not in qualifying.

'Yesterday it was important to have a clean run. We trust the car we have. We go with the circuit, and I was very comfortable.

'I found I was always able to get a bit quicker. I knew it would be tight here, but it seems we've been able to make a bigger difference.

'Obviously we've got it right in qualifying today, but I'm still only eight metres ahead of Lewis.'

Asked about the fact Red Bull have been to forced modify the hole in the floor of their car and the wheel hubs of late as they have both been deemed illegal by the FIA, Vettel said: 'It's not just a hole in the floor that makes all the difference.

Middle: Jenson Button will start from 10th

Middle: Jenson Button will start from 10th

'Reading the newspapers you get that impression, but we never feared it would have a big impact on the car, and even without the hole I enjoyed qualifying.'

Hamilton found himself genuinely surprised to be starting on the front row for the fourth time this season.

'It was definitely harder for us today, working with the tyres, notably in P3 (final practice) and in qualifying trying to get the tyres to switch them on,' Vettel said.

'I managed to get through on a new set, so I'm very happy and surprised to see us on the front row, and we'll take it.'

Sebastian Vettel lacking in confidence

Vettel lacking in confidence despite topping standings after Bahrain Grand Prix



11:16 GMT, 25 April 2012

Sebastian Vettel has admitted confidence is not what it used to be inside Red Bull despite hitting the front again in this year's Formula One world title race.

Vettel clinched his 22nd career victory in Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix to leapfrog Lewis Hamilton at the top of the championship standings by four points after the opening four races.

The reigning double world champion, however, has found it tough going in a see-saw season so far in which no driver or car has dominated, in contrast to Vettel's stranglehold last year.

Back on top: Sebastian Vettel celebrates his at the Bahrain Grand Prix

Back on top: Sebastian Vettel celebrates his at the Bahrain Grand Prix

'It's a nice story to say we had the best car by far before,' said Vettel.

'Yes, we had a very strong car, but sometimes we didn't have the best car yet had strong weekends.

'This year we'd have loved to be in a better place to start. Nevertheless, I think we've had good races.

'But it is tight and we're not as confident as we used to be, so small things can make a difference in qualifying and have a big impact on the race.

'The faster you go on Saturday, the easier the race is on Sunday.'

Prior to the weekend Vettel had been out-qualified by team-mate Mark Webber in the first three races such was his slump in form.

Racing on: Vettel held off the challenge of the two Lotus drivers

Racing on: Vettel held off the challenge of the two Lotus drivers

The 24-year-old German has chopped and changed with regard to different aspects of his car in a bid to find what suits him best.

Despite his win from pole in Bahrain, the 17th of his F1 career that elevates him up to joint fourth alongside Nigel Mansell in the sport's history books, Vettel knows there is more to come.

'We've only had four races,' said Vettel, speaking to Metro.

'I'm not entirely happy with where we are, but I think there's great potential in the car.

'You have to give yourself time to try different things and see what works best for you.

Team work: Mark Webber (left) has shown improved form this season

Team work: Mark Webber (left) has shown improved form this season

'Maybe Mark is struggling a bit less (this season), I don't know, but we talk about how the car feels and agree on most stuff.'

Vettel admits the three-day test next week in Mugello, the first in season since 2008, is 'crucial' for the team if they are to make the progress he expects in the races that follow.

Vettel added: 'In Italy we'll be able to test and evaluate a lot of things and get the car in a happier place for Barcelona (the Spanish Grand Prix on May 13).'

Australian Grand Prix faces axe, warns Bernie Ecclestone

You're on borrowed time! Bernie warns that Australia could lose its grand prix after 2015 race

Bernie Ecclestone has warned that the Australian Grand Prix faces being axed from the Formula One calendar.

Melbourne’s Albert Park, which is set to host this season’s curtain raiser in a fortnight's time, has a contract until 2015.

But Ecclestone says the sport is prepared to end its 30-year association with Australia, calling it the 'least viable' race on the calendar.

A lovely sight: Melbourne's Albert Park will stage the first race of the new season

A lovely sight: Melbourne's Albert Park will stage the first race of the new season

'We have a contract which we will
respect – so up until 2015 we are in good shape,' Ecclestone, 81, told
Melbourne newspaper The Age.

'After then, we really don’t know. If we
were to have a divorce from our friends in Melbourne we would probably
be walking away from Australia.

I can’t see how Adelaide could make it happen, or anywhere else, if
Melbourne can’t. The race itself, from our point of view, is probably
the least viable of all the races we have.'

End of the road: Melbourne may lose its grand prix after the current contract

End of the road: Melbourne may lose its grand prix after the current contract

Ecclestone hinted that he would be prepared to negotiate a reduced fee if the race was held under floodlights making it more suitable to European television audiences.

'We would have a look, maybe we could help subsidise that a little bit,’ he added.

'We have other races ready to take the place of Australia – which we don’t want to happen.

Ringmaster: Bernie Ecclestone has warned the Australian Grand Prix over its future

Ringmaster: Bernie Ecclestone has warned the Australian Grand Prix over its future

'But it would be wrong of me to have to report to our board, “Terribly sorry about this but we have to walk away from wherever to retain Australia”.'

Since staging its first Formula One event in 1985, the Australian Grand Prix has played host to a number of memorable races.

Unforgettable: Mansell lost the 1986 title in Adelaide

Unforgettable: Mansell lost the 1986 title in Adelaide

Adelaide Street Circuit, which ran the event prior to Melbourne, was the scene of Nigel Mansell’s unforgettable tyre blow out as he looked poised to clinch the 1986 world title.

The same track also saw Michael Schumacher and Damon Hill infamously collide, earning the former his first of seven world titles back in 1994.