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Oscar Pistorius due in court charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

Blade Runner Oscar Pistorius arrives at court charged with the murder of girlfriend Reeva SteenkampPistorius has arrived at the Pretoria Magistrates Court
His girlfriend was allegedly shot four times through the bathroom doorIncident happened at his Pretoria mansion, north of Johannesburg
Dead woman is former FHM model Reeva Steenkamp
She was shot several times in the head and hand
Celebrated sprinter spent the night in a police cell before the hearing

Becomes the first double amputee to run at the Olympic Games, reaching the semi-finals of the 400m and the final of the 4x400m. Carries the South African flag at the Paralympic Opening Ceremony and then wins a silver and two gold medals in the 200m, 400m and 4x100m relay.

February 2013 Charged with murder after his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, is shot dead.

Pistorius's father and sister are in the front row in a heaving court room. His father said Pistorius was 'sad' following the shooting.

Henke Pistorius told SABC radio news: 'I don't know the facts. If anyone makes a statement, it will have to be Oscar. He's sad at the moment.'

The couple had been dubbed the Posh and Becks of South Africa.

The defence is expected to argue that Pistorius is not a flight risk and should be bailed.

Forensic experts are expected to continue examining the house in the upmarket Silver Woods gated community.

Near the home, people who knew Pistorius recalled a much-loved local hero.

'Some of us were in tears,' said Precious, who works at a petrol station where Pistorius used to fill up his McLaren supercar, signing autographs and picking up the tab for people in the convenience store.

'He was just so kind to everyone,' Precious said.

Initial reports suggested the model may
have been mistaken for a burglar, but Brigadier Denise Beukes later said
police were 'very surprised' by that suggestion, adding: 'These
allegations did not come from us.'

There
had been previous incidents of a 'domestic nature' at the property on
the exclusive, gated Silver Lakes Golf Estate in the South African
capital Pretoria, she added. A 9mm pistol was recovered.

Police
spokeswoman Lt Col Katlego Mogale said: 'Paramedics declared the woman
dead on the scene and police proceeded with their investigation.

'The woman sustained wounds to her head and the upper body.'

Police said an application for bail by Pistorius's lawyer Kenny Oldwage would be opposed when he appears in court.

Charged: Pistorius, his head lowered and face covered, leaves the Boschkop police station in Pretoria for a blood test at hospital prior to being taken to court

Charged: Pistorius, his head lowered and face covered, leaves the Boschkop police station in Pretoria for a blood test at hospital prior to being taken to court

Oscar Pistorius with his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in Johannesburg, South Africa, in November. Pistorius is due in court today charged with her murder

Murder suspect: Olympic and Paralympic star Reeva Steenkamp, 30, who was shot dead yesterday. The runner is due in court today

Last photo: Pistorius and girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp pose for a picture in Johannesburg last Thursday

Last photo: Oscar Pistorius and girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp pose for a
picture in Johannesburg last Thursday. He has been charged with shooting
her dead in the early hours of yesterday morning

Ominous: The Paralympic sprinter posted this message on Twitter on November 27

Ominous: The Paralympic sprinter posted this message on Twitter on November 27

Dressed
in a grey hooded jacket, tracksuit trousers and trainers, Pistorius,
26, walked with head bowed from the Boschkop police station yesterday
before being taken to Pretoria's Mamelodi Day Hospital in a police
convoy.

Brig Beukes said the medical examination was 'standard procedure'.

Pistorius's spokesman, from the Fast
Track agency in London, said he was 'assisting the police with their
investigations' but no further comment could be made until matters
became clearer.

Initial rumours suggested the shooting may have been a Valentine's Day surprise gone wrong.

The couple had only been going out since November.

Miss Steenkamp, a model and law
graduate, tweeted the day before Valentine's Day: 'What do you have up
your sleeve for your love tomorrow #getexcited #ValentinesDay.'

Pistorius appeared to have serious concerns about his safety and was said to sleep with a revolver by his side.

Incident: Oscar Pistorius is believed to have shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, 30, a former FHM model, pictured together on January 26 in Johannesburg

Incident: Oscar Pistorius is believed to have shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, 30, a former FHM model, pictured together on January 26 in Johannesburg

Star: Oscar Pistorius has reportedly been arrested this morning having shot his girlfriend in the head and arm, killing her

Star: Oscar Pistorius was arrested yesterday morning accused of having shot his girlfriend in the head and arm, killing her

Sportsmail's Jonathan McEvoy interviewed him last summer and noted: 'This being South Africa, one
baseball bat and one cricket bat lie behind Pistorius's bedroom door.

'A revolver is at his bedside. A machine gun by his window.'

The athlete made history at the London
2012 Olympics becoming the first amputee sprinter to compete in the
able-bodied Games, running in the 400m and 4x400m relay.

Beauty: A modelling photo used in Reeva Steenkamp's portfolio. Mr Taylor said that she touched many lives and was headed for stardom'

Beauty: A modelling photo used in Reeva Steenkamp's portfolio. Mr Taylor
said that she 'touched many lives and was headed for stardom'

The star was born without fibulas and underwent below-the-knee amputations at just 11 months old.

He had to win a legal battle over his
blades with the International Association of Athletics Federations
(IAAF) in 2008 for the right to compete in able-bodied competition.

Pistorius's father said his son was 'sad' following the shooting.

Henke Pistorius told SABC radio news:
'I don't know the facts. If anyone makes a statement, it will have to be
Oscar. He's sad at the moment.'

Couple: Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp had been dating for a few months after meeting at a South African awards ceremony

Couple: Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp had been dating for a few months after meeting at a South African awards ceremony

Tweet

Message: Reeva yesterday went on to Twitter to say how excited she was about Valentine's Day

Message: Reeva went on to Twitter to say how excited she was about Valentine's Day

The couple were dubbed the Posh and Becks of South Africa.

On her Twitter biography, Miss
Steenkamp described herself as a 'Model, Cover Girl, Tropika Island Of
Treasure Celeb Contestant, Law Graduate, Child of God'.

Tropika island Of Treasure is a TV show she was due to appear on this weekend.

Model: Reeva Steenkamp had been seeing Oscar since November but had forged her own successful career in South Africa

Model: Reeva Steenkamp had been seeing Oscar since November but had forged her own successful career in South Africa

Reeva

Reeva

Famous: The 30-year-old has 3,000 followers on Twitter and is a law graduate from Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Last appearance: Reeva Steenkamp was photographed at the Virgin Active Sports Industry Awards in Johannesburg a week ago

Last appearance: Reeva Steenkamp was photographed at the Virgin Active Sports Industry Awards in Johannesburg a week ago

Last appearance: Reeva Steenkamp was
photographed at the Virgin Active Sports Industry Awards in Johannesburg
a week ago (left) and was often showing her own snaps on Twitter

Miss Steenkamp's publicist Sarit
Tomlinson paid tribute to her, saying she was 'the sweetest human being
and an absolute angel on earth'.

She added: 'She was the kindest, most unbelievable girl.'

She told Sky News: 'It's shocking. No one knows what happened. We're waiting for information.

South African newspapers plastered the killing across their front pages, relegating a State of the Nation address by President Jacob Zuma in parliament to a distant second.

The coverage reflected shock and dismay at the fall of a sporting hero who commanded rare respect on all sides of South Africa's racial divides.

'Golden Boy Loses Shine' ran a front page headline in the Sowetan, beside a picture of Pistorius, head bowed in a grey hooded tracksuit being led away from a police station.

Callers to morning radio shows expressed remorse at the death of Steenkamp, who had been due to give a talk at a Johannesburg school this week about violence against women.

There was also widespread disbelief at the fate of a sporting legend regarded as a genuinely 'good guy'.

'How is it possible for one so high to fall so low so quickly' Talk Radio 702 host John Robbie said.

Home: Neighbours of the athlete say they heard noise from the house (pictured today) just before the authorities arrived

Home: Neighbours of the athlete say they heard noise from the house (pictured yesterday) just before the authorities arrived

Location: Pistorius's home is inside a gated housing complex with a nature reserve, golf course and lots of green space, all within high walls

Location: Pistorius's home is inside a gated housing complex with a nature reserve, golf course and lots of green space, all within high walls

Police: South African police vehicles enter the Siverwoods security estate in Pretoria East where famous South African paralympic and Olympic sprinter, Oscar Pistorius

Police: South African police vehicles enter the Silverwoods security
estate in Pretoria East where famous South African paralympic and
Olympic sprinter, Oscar Pistorius, allegedly shot and killed his
girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

Investigation: Police spokeswoman Denise Beukes confirmed the celebrated athlete was in custody charged with murder

Investigation: Police spokeswoman Denise Beukes confirmed the celebrated athlete was in custody charged with murder

'There are people we are waiting to speak to, to validate some of the stories.'

Asked about Miss Steenkamp's
relationship with Pistorius, Ms Tomlinson said: 'They had been together
for a couple of months and it's been a fabulous relationship – a
healthy, fabulous relationship.'

Miss Steenkamp's friend Mashadi Motsogi broke down in tears.

The distressed model said she heard the news of Miss Steenkamp's death on Twitter.

'I have lost a friend,' she said, telling reporters that Miss Steenkamp's death in a secure complex did not make sense.

'Look, security here is safe. We moved
to this area for security reasons. It does not make sense to me that my
friend was shot, mistaken for an intruder.'

Advert: An image on Pistorius's website for his sponsor Nike linked to his love of shooting has been removed today

Advert: An image on Pistorius's website for his sponsor Nike, linked to his love of shooting, has been removed

Adverts for television coverage of the Oscars featuring Oscar Pistorius were seen being pulled down in Johannesburg today

Adverts for television coverage of the Oscars featuring Oscar Pistorius were seen being pulled down in Johannesburg

Workmen move quickly to replace the roadside posters in the South Africa city

Workmen move quickly to replace the roadside posters in the South Africa city

Oscar Pistorius' sister, Aimee, left, leaves the Mamelodi Hospital, east of Pretoria where she visited her brother while he was being examined earlier today

Oscar Pistorius' sister, Aimee, left, leaves the Mamelodi Hospital, east
of Pretoria where she visited her brother while he was being examined
earlier

Incident: Oscar Pistorius with Reeva Steenkamp, 30, a former FHM model who is believed to have been shot dead today

Famous: Reeva Steenkamp worked primarily for Ice Model Management in Johannesburg, who expressed their distress at her death today

Incident: Oscar Pistorius is accused of murdering Reeva Steenkamp, 30, a high profile model, pictured together in November at an awards ceremony, and right, doing her job

Scene: Police were called to Oscar's home, pictured, at 4am where a 30-year-old woman was treated by paramedics but died there

Scene: Police were called to Oscar's home, pictured, at 4am where a 30-year-old woman was treated by paramedics but died there

Death: Oscar Pistorius on his Pretoria at his house in Pretoria, where a woman believed to be his girlfriend was found shot dead today

Death: Oscar Pistorius on his Pretoria at his house in Pretoria, where a woman believed to be his girlfriend was found shot dead

Grand: Mr Pistorius lives in a large farm in Pretoria, which is surrounded by high walls and armed guards

Grand: Mr Pistorius lives in a large farm in Pretoria, which is surrounded by high walls and armed guards

Family members of Oscar Pistorius were pictured outside the police station where he was being held

Oscar Pistorius's brother was seen outside the police station in South Africa tonight

Family members of Oscar Pistorius, including his brother (right), were pictured outside the police station where he was being held

Winner: Oscar Pistorius celebrates with his gold medal following the men's 400m win at London 2012

Winner: Oscar Pistorius celebrates with his gold medal following the men's 400m win at London 2012

Icon: The athlete has done more than anyone to promote disabled sport and is one of the world's most famous athletes

Icon: The athlete has done more than anyone to promote disabled sport and is one of the world's most famous athletes

Custody: Clothes hang out of prison cells at the Pretoria Central Prison, where Oscar Pistorius is allegedly being held before his court appearance

Custody: Clothes hang out of prison cells at the Pretoria Central Prison, where Oscar Pistorius is allegedly being held before his court appearance today

VIDEO People react in shock to news of Reeva Steenkamp's death

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VIDEO Pistorius leaves police station after murder charge…

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VIDEO Police detail 'previous domestic incidents' in Pistorius home

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VIDEO FHM Model Reeva was due to star in upcoming Tropika Island of Treasure

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VIDEO Model Reeva Steenkamp speaks at a Malibu event

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Mario Balotelli wanted by AC Milan for 20m… but Roberto Mancini wants him to stay at Manchester City

AC Milan plan 20m swoop for Mario… but City and Mancini are on a collision course if Balotelli returns to Italy

|

UPDATED:

01:12 GMT, 23 December 2012

Italian giants AC Milan claim they are lining up a 20million bid to sign striker Mario Balotelli in next month’s transfer window — against the wishes of Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini.

Interim president Adriano Galliani has been ordered by Milan owner and Balotelli fan, Silvio Berlusconi, to take the former Inter Milan star back to San Siro and he plans to negotiate directly with City’s Abu Dhabi owners and the player’s agent, Mino Raiola.

That leaves Mancini out in the cold after he has repeatedly stated that he wants the troubled striker to stay in England.

Out and about: Mario Balotelli was spotted in a petrol station in Alderley Edge 20 minutes before Manchester City kicked off against Reading

Out and about: Mario Balotelli was spotted in a petrol station in Alderley Edge 20 minutes before Manchester City kicked off against Reading

Balotelli missed City’s 1-0 win over Reading and Mancini said: ‘Mario is ill. I don’t know where he is now. For one week he’s been ill. He came to the training ground yesterday because he wants to train but he can’t. But I can’t [shut] him in his house. It’s impossible.’

The final decision on Balotelli’s future could prove crucial to the long-term relationship between Mancini and his bosses, City owner Sheik Mansour and chairman Khaldoon al Mubarak.

The Italian manager wants to give Balotelli another chance to succeed at City after the player accepted a two-week fine worth 330,000 for his poor disciplinary record on the pitch last season.

Tempestuous relationship: Mario Balotelli storms off after being substituted by Roberto Mancini against Manchester United

Tempestuous relationship: Balotelli storms off after being substituted by Roberto Mancini against Manchester United

But City’s hierarchy feel the wayward 22-year-old is more trouble than he is worth following a series of indiscretions and are happy to encourage Milan’s interest.

For their part, the Italian club — who face Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League — are close to offloading Brazil strikers Robinho and Alexandre Pato in January to finance a 20m cash bid for Balotelli.

Robinho is wanted by former club Santos and Pato by world champion club side Corinthians.

Surplus to requirements: Robinho (left) and Alexandre Pato will be sold for AC Milan to acquire a transfer kitty for Balotelli

Up for grabs: Pato

Surplus to requirements: Robinho (left) and Alexandre Pato will be sold for AC Milan to acquire a transfer kitty for Balotelli

Milan are convinced they will land Balotelli, who is a national hero in Italy after top-scoring at Euro 2012 when his country unexpectedly reached the final.

A senior source at San Siro said: ‘Mancini will not be involved so it doesn’t matter what he thinks. The negotiations are going to take place between Abu Dhabi and Galliani, and they will include Balotelli’s agent who is very close to Galliani.’

But it would be a big call to overrule Mancini, who believes Balotelli can develop into one of the world’s best players and he said: ‘I’m his manager and if he deserves other chances he will have them.’

Keeping the faith: Mancini believes Balotelli can harness his potential to become one of the world's best

Keeping the faith: Mancini believes Balotelli can harness his potential to become one of the world's best

Having won the FA Cup and Premier League, Mancini should survive in the hot seat despite failing to reach the Champions League’s knockout stage.

However, there are tensions behind the scenes. Although Mancini is happy to have seen Brian Marwood lose control of transfers as technical director, he is aware that Marwood’s replacement, Txiki Begiristain, and new chief executive Ferran Soriano aim to overhaul training methods.

They want to prioritise signing the best 12-and 13-year-olds in Europe and coach them to play Barcelona-style football while the manager wants ready-made players so City can challenge in Europe immediately.

A compromise could be reached, with Begiristain now in South America trying to sign Paulinho from Corinthians. They also have ambitions of signing Neymar, of Santos.

Preston manager Graham Westley refunds fans after Bury clash postponed

Preston boss Westley covers petrol costs of fans after Bury clash called off

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UPDATED:

22:41 GMT, 4 December 2012

Preston North End manager Graham Westley helped soften the blow some of the club's fans suffered on Tuesday night, dipping into his pocket to refund their travel costs after their Johnstone's Paint Trophy clash against Bury was postponed.

The match at Gigg Lane was called off an hour before kick-off due to a waterlogged pitch, despite referee Gary Sutton giving the all clear at 6.30pm.

Westley came across a minibus full of fans making the 30-odd mile journey home, and offered to cover their petrol costs, as well as a round of soft drinks.

Scroll down for video of the Preston boss paying back the fans

Making friends: Graham Westley has covered the petrol costs of some fans

Making friends: Graham Westley has covered the petrol costs of some fans

Video footage of the kind gesture quickly circulated on Twitter, while a number of Lilywhites fans were full of praise for the boss.

@Weyer95 wrote: 'Home and dry (like bury's pitch according to GW). Very disappointed with the game being called off but Graham Westley is magic.'

@ecossesteve added: 'Hearing some great stories from #PNE fans being refunded travel expenses by Graham Westley personally. Fantastic stuff.'

And ‏@ingolwhite claimed his son had been one of the benficeries. He wrote: 'top man graham westley bought my son and his mates a drink and gave them 40 petrol money.'

Preston are 11th in League One after an indifferent run of results, and sit six points adrift of the playoff places.

**WARNING, USE OF STRONG LANGUAGE

Bradley Wiggins pictured back on his bike after crash last week

Wiggins pictured back on his bike just one week after suffering nasty injuries in crash

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UPDATED:

13:35 GMT, 16 November 2012

Just over a week after he suffered bruising, a fractured rib, a bruised lung and a dislocated finger in a crash with a white van, Bradley Wiggins was back on his bike again on Friday morning.

The Tour de France winner and four-time Olympic champion looked to have made a speedy recovery from his injuries as he rode near his home in Eccleston, Lancashire.

And as these pictures show, Wiggins seemed in rather a better mood than when he was snapped leaving hospital after the crash, when he made a crude one-fingered gesture at photographers.

On yer bike: Bradley Wiggins is back riding again after suffering a broken rib in a crash with a white van

On yer bike: Bradley Wiggins is back riding again after suffering a broken rib in a crash with a white van

Today he was, unsurprisingly, rather more relaxed and offered a different salute for the snappers: a thumbs-up.

The 32-year-old was forced to spend a night in hospital in Preston after a vehicle collided with him on the evening of November 7 near his home in Lancashire.

Wiggins was thrown off his bike when a white Vauxhall Astra Envoy is thought to have pulled out of a petrol station in Wrightington and collided with him.

Easy rider: Wiggins leaving his home in the village of Eccleston in Lancashire on Friday morning

Easy rider: Wiggins leaving his home in the village of Eccleston in Lancashire on Friday morning

Thumbs up: Wiggins leaving his home in the village of Eccleston in Lancashire on Friday morning

Ouch: Wiggins suffered bruising, a fractured rib, a bruised lung and a dislocated finger in the crash

Ouch: Wiggins suffered bruising, a fractured rib, a bruised lung and a dislocated finger in the crash

Wiggins became Le Tour's first British winner in July before winning Olympic time-trial gold at Hampton Court on August 1

His feats mean he is the red-hot
favourite to land the BBC's prestigious Sports Personality of the Year
award on December 16, although his rude gesture at photographers on
leaving hospital could alienate potential voters.

The Kilburn-born star has since apologised for his actions, blaming tiredness and pain following his accident.

National treasure: Wiggins celebrates his Tour de France victory (above) and Olympic success in London (below)

National treasure: Wiggins celebrates his Tour de France victory (above) and Olympic success in London (below)

National treasure: Wiggins celebrates his Tour de France victory (above) and Olympic success in London (below)

In a separate road accident, British
cycling head coach Shane Sutton was also admitted to hospital within 24
hours of Wiggins with a fractured cheek bone.

Sutton was part of the management team
which has helped Wiggins to many successes including the world's
toughest bike race and this year's time trial gold medal at the London
Olympics.

Jaap Stam: Sir Alex Ferguson raced to a petrol station and told me to leave Manchester United

Sir Alex raced to meet me at a petrol station and told me to go! Stam on THAT United exit

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UPDATED:

14:12 GMT, 11 November 2012

Jaap Stam has revealed how his decision to leave Manchester United was made in a showdown with Sir Alex Ferguson at a petrol station.

The Manchester United manager sold the defender, one of the best in the club's history, to Lazio for 16.5million in 2001.

Stam, 40, has now explained the circumstances in which he was forced towards the exit at Old Trafford.

/11/11/article-2231324-15F533A9000005DC-973_468x317.jpg

The boss: Sir Alex Ferguson drove to the petrol station and told Stam to leave

'When I think about it now, and I have never talked about it before, I find it unbelievable I let that, as a player, happen to me.'

Stam is now planning on becoming a manager himself – though he didn't reveal if he was planning any impromptu petrol station meetings with his players.

He said: 'I am getting ready to become a manager and preparing for my UEFA pro licence course. More than anything I want to go and coach in England.'

Bahrain Grand Prix 2012: Force India consider skipping practice as Lewis Hamilton leads way

Force India consider skipping Bahrain practice as Hamilton tops the timesheets

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UPDATED:

08:57 GMT, 20 April 2012

Lewis Hamilton ended the first practice session for this weekend's troubled Bahrain Grand Prix on top of the timesheets.

The McLaren star, who arrives in the Gulf kingdom leading the world championship, clocked the fastest time from Sebastian Vettel with Paul di Resta third quickest.

Chinese Grand Prix winner Nico Rosberg was fourth fastest, with Jenson Button fifth.

The session ended with growing reports that Force India, who were caught up in a petrol-bomb attack on Wednesday night, would skip the second free practice session over fears of travelling back from the circuit in the dark.

More to follow…

Leading the way: Hamilton was quickest in Friday's first practice session

Leading the way: Hamilton was quickest in Friday's first practice session

No chances: The security presence was on full display at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Friday

No chances: The security presence was on full display at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Friday

Bahrain Grand Prix 2012: Force India pair fly home after petrol-bomb attack

It's not safe: Force India duo fly home after petrol bombing

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UPDATED:

22:51 GMT, 19 April 2012

The controversial Bahrain Grand Prix
came under renewed threat as two Force India employees flew
home after team personnel were forced to flee protesters hurling petrol
bombs.

The incident happened when four Force
India team members were unwittingly caught up in a battle between
security forces and anti-government demonstrators. They were stuck in
traffic after leaving the Sakhir Circuit just outside the capital
Manama.

Flashpoint:Protesters confront police in Manama

Flashpoint:Protesters confront police in Manama

Out in Force: It was business as usual for the Silverstone-based team on Thursday

Out in Force: It was business as usual for the Silverstone-based team on Thursday

Out in Force: It was business as usual for the Silverstone-based team on Thursday

The driver of the 4×4 escaped through
a gap in the flames while tear gas seeped into the vehicle. Two of the
men were later given permission to fly home after expressing serious
concerns about their safety.

Those involved were said to be angry
at the decision by the organisers to allow the race to go ahead. It is
understood one of the men telephoned a high-ranking Force India official
during the incident informing him he had counted eight Molotov
cocktails being thrown, one of which landed close to their car.

As a consequence, Force India have
beefed up their security. Team cars have been fitted with trackers and
will travel in close company. In addition, Force India employees are
endeavouring to leave the circuit before nightfall.

Protest: Some Bahrainis want this weekend's race to be cancelled

Protest: Some Bahrainis want this weekend's race to be cancelled

A member of Williams’ catering staff
was released last week after being found to be in breach of contract for
expressing her unwillingness to travel to Bahrain on moral grounds.

But Force India deputy team principal
Bob Fernley insisted he had no qualms about allowing two of his
employees to return home. ‘We respect totally their position,’ said
Fernley. ‘If they are feeling uncomfortable, or their families are, then
we respect that.’

The incident provoked a forthright
response from Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg. He said: ‘We shouldn’t
have been put in this position. It is obviously not right that that
sort of stuff happens. The F1 business is about entertainment and these
things should not be happening to us.’

Star: Scottish driver Paul di Resta (left) races for the Silverstone-based team

Star: Scottish driver Paul di Resta (left) races for the Silverstone-based team

British star: Hamilton in the Bahrain paddock on Thursday

British star: Hamilton in the Bahrain paddock on Thursday

Hulkenberg’s team-mate, Scot Paul Di
Resta, added: ‘There is an edge to things at the moment. We’ve all said
we’d take direction from the FIA because they said it is safe but we
need to see how things develop.’

Their views were contrasted by those
of Red Bull’s double world champion, Sebastian Vettel, who appeared to
have misread the seriousness of the situation.

‘It is not a big problem,’ said
Vettel. ‘I am happy once we start testing because then we can start
worrying about the stuff that really matters, like tyre temperatures and
cars. I haven’t seen anyone throwing bombs. I don’t think it is that
bad. There is a lot of hype.’

On track: Double world champion Sebastian Vettel takes to the circuit on Thursday

On track: Double world champion Sebastian Vettel takes to the circuit on Thursday

Organisers of the Bahrain Grand Prix
tried to play down the flashpoint. Circuit chairman Zayed R Alzayani
said: ‘It was an isolated incident. My wife was involved, too. The
protesters were not targeting the cars. They just happened to be there.
Nobody was injured. I don’t command the police; they know what to do
better than I do. I have a race to run.’

Business as usual: Rosberg will be keen to build on his maiden grand prix win in China last weekend

Business as usual: Rosberg will be keen to build on his maiden grand prix win in China last weekend

Bahrain travel advice

British fans are not being advised by the Foreign Office (FCO) against travelling to Bahrain. Leader of the House of Commons Sir George Young said: 'Although we are concerned by some of the violent exchanges still occurring in Bahrain and call on all sides to exercise restraint and follow the rule of law, at this stage the FCO is not giving any specific advice to visitors that they should cancel their visit.'

One more incident of the nature which
befell Force India and Alzayani may find he does not have a race to run
after all. Former assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan police John
Yates, who is employed by the Bahrain government to advise on police
reform, has already admitted that the safety of Formula One teams cannot
be guaranteed.

Friday is traditionally the day when the most serious disturbances occur.
It is also the start of the ‘three days of rage’ being promised by the radical February 14 Youth Movement.

Bahrain F1 chief allays fears over troubled grand prix

There are idiots everywhere in the world… should we stop the Olympics Bahrain chief allays fears over troubled grand prix

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UPDATED:

11:39 GMT, 16 April 2012

Bahrain International Circuit chairman Zayed R Alzayani has admitted to taking 'a calculated decision' with regard to the staging of this year's grand prix.

The eyes of the world are on Bahrain this week as the countdown continues in earnest to its return on the Formula One calendar this weekend.

A week ago seven policeman were
injured, three seriously, by a petrol bomb, while a funeral march on
Friday resulted in three teenagers being shot as police attempted to
disperse the more volatile demonstrators.

March: The eyes of the sporting world are on Bahrain this week

March: The eyes of the sporting world are on Bahrain this week

However, Alzayani said: 'It could happen in any country in the world.

'Why is it any different here Look at what happened in London when we had a guy jump into the Thames and stop the Boat Race.

'Do you want to tell me there is no threat on the Olympics in London Should we should stop the Olympics

'What's the difference There are idiots everywhere in the world. Does that mean we just sit at home and lock ourselves up

Patrol: The race is scheduled to take place in Bahrain this weekend

Patrol: The race is scheduled to take place in Bahrain this weekend

'So let's have the event, I'm sure it will be a good event, a safe event.

'I
can assure you most of the people who are hesitant or reluctant about
Bahrain will change their perception within the first day of being here.

'We've seen it, and
people who have already been to Bahrain and were worried and everything
like that, they left with a different perception.'

Alzayani has long preached confidence the race will pass without a hitch, however, there are several demonstrations and protests planned this week ahead of the event.

One in particular has been described by a risk assessment group as 'a vehicular rally' due to take place along two of the main highways that lead up to the airport on Wednesday, when most F1 personnel are due to arrive.

“Freedom or death”: The F1 community are wary of their venture into Bahrain

Today's arrival into Bahrain was peaceful enough with GP staff on hand at the airport, including a cameraman and photographer to catch the arrival of their first F1 guests.

That included drivers in Williams' Bruno Senna, Sergio Perez from Sauber, along with two reserves in Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi and Jerome D'Ambrosio from Lotus.

Appreciably there are plenty of posters and banners promoting the race, most notably on lamp posts leading away from the airport, one especially counting down the days to Friday's first practice.

But given the potential for disruption, Alzayani does not believe the future of the race is at stake.

Winner: Rosberg claimed his first grand prix victory in China on Sunday

Winner: Rosberg claimed his first grand prix victory in China on Sunday

'We've been in Formula One for seven years and we will be in it for much longer than that,' Alzayani added.

'We wouldn't take a decision on a gamble. But it's a calculated decision, we've weighed up our options and we are committed to the grand prix and to its success.

Phil Duncan F1 blog

'I don't think anything drastic will happen. It's not Syria or Afghanistan. I don't see why anything should happen this year that hasn't happened in the previous years.

'I don't see any benefit for anyone personally attacking the media or the teams or anything.

'Even those who are protesting weaken their message if they do so. Why would you go and attack the media

Making his point: Zayed Alzayani has admitted to taking 'a calculated decision'

Making his point: Zayed Alzayani has admitted to taking 'a calculated decision'

'I think they will probably look out for the media to try and get their message abroad, which is fine. Let them express their opinion.'

It is a question, however, of how forcefully that opinion is expressed and whether any protester goes above and beyond to do so.

Alzayani feels F1's visit will allay some of the myths that have been perpetrated in the run-up to the race, although appreciates problems do exist that cast a shadow over the race and Bahrain.

'Will this year be exactly like it was in the past years No,' said Alzayani.

'We know that for a fact and I'd be lying if I sat down and told you it would be the same and eveything's normal.

'The country has gone through a tough year, we are still wounded in some aspects or another, and we are on the way to regaining our health.

'But the race will be positive to the country, positive to the economy which has suffered a lot in the last year and a half, and it will put things in perspective.

'A lot of the damage that has happened to Bahrain post the events of last year have been driven by perception, by people not necessarily writing what they see or hear.

'For us, we will be happy for the teams and the journalists and the media to come to Bahrain and see it and then write about it.

'Things are not 100 per cent, but they are not as bad as people make them out to be.'

Bahrain Grand Prix: The worst is behind us now, says Zayed R Alzayani

The worst is behind us now, claims Bahrain chief as under-fire race gets green light

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UPDATED:

07:43 GMT, 29 March 2012

Bahrain International Circuit chairman Zayed R Alzayani believes the return of Formula One to the Gulf kingdom will bring new hope to the region.

In three weeks' time the teams will have arrived in the country which again stands on the brink of playing its part in F1 after last year's race was cancelled in the wake of anti-government protests that resulted in a number of deaths.

No to F1: A protester hurls a petrol-bomb at police

No to F1: A protester hurls a petrol-bomb at police

Despite suggestions the event will be targeted, Alzayani can see no threat to the race, although concedes efforts to promote a positive message have been 'a challenge'.

Despite that, he said: 'Whatever story we have tried to put out has always been overshadowed by conflict or political issues in the country, with people getting arrested, killed or injured, or whatever.

'But the worst is behind us now. There's a genuine move towards progress, getting the country back on track.

Protest: A Bahraini anti-government demonstrator wielding rocks and wearing a

Protest: A Bahraini anti-government demonstrator wielding rocks and wearing a “No to Formula 1” t-shirt

'Everybody has suffered in Bahrain – the citizens, the businesses – and it's time we find some hope, build on it and move back to where we were.'

In an effort to promote a “life as normal” scenario, Alzayani has confirmed there will be no increase in security the week of the event.

That may come as a concern to some teams, prompting Red Bull boss Christian Horner to confirm there will be extra security of their own on hand.

The fear is just one incident involving anyone in F1 will cast a shadow over the event and the country.

Red light: The race was last staged in 2010 after last year's grand prix was scrapped

Red light: The race was last staged in 2010 after last year's grand prix was scrapped

Alzayani, however, shrugged aside such concerns as he said: 'I've been mugged in New York twice and I still go back.

'My brother was mugged outside Harrods. Somebody stuck a knife to him and took off his Rolex, but he still comes to London 10 times a year.

F1 supremo: Ecclestone attended a lunch on Wednesday hosted by Alzayani

F1 supremo: Ecclestone attended a lunch on Wednesday hosted by Alzayani

'These incidents can happen anywhere. It's not going to stop our grand prix.'

There is also the prospect of peaceful protests taking place and doing enough to stop the race from going ahead.

It is a possibility previously suggested by Ecclestone as a way for the demonstrators to get their message across.

'I asked Bernie why he said that, and his response was that he doesn't believe they can do that, that there are not enough people to do it,' said Alzayani.

'He also said it would be the wrong thing. Why would you sabotage something that's good for the country'

Ecclestone attended a lunch yesterday hosted by Alzayani and BIC chief executive Sheikh Salman bin Isa al-Khalifa, with team bosses Horner, Martin Whitmarsh and Sir Frank Williams in attendance.

Ecclestone has no concerns as to the race's prospects as he said: 'Of course it is going to happen. No worries at all.

'What I don't understand are the negative statements being made, people catching them and continuing them. They're saying things they don't understand.

'People say to me “There's not going to be a race.” And I say “Well how do you know” And they tell me they saw or read something, but it's all nonsense.

'These people (the Bahrainis) were brave enough to start an event in that part of the world, and that's it. We'll be there as long as they want us.'

AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX 2012: Sky coverage impressive

Early alarm for BBC as Sky set new standard with Australian GP coverage

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UPDATED:

00:26 GMT, 19 March 2012

You have to be a fanatical
petrol-head to rise a few ticks after four o'clock on a Sabbath morning
to watch some guys drive round and round at the other end of the world.

But you would have to be certifiably
insane to think that by the time the BBC highlights come on, at
approximately the point you're a few slices into your roast beef, you
could avoid having heard the result.

That or a Carthusian monk.

Slick start: Sky F1 presenters Simon Lazenby, Martin Brundle and Damon Hill

Slick start: Sky F1 presenters Simon Lazenby, Martin Brundle and Damon Hill

I can report there is a second compelling reason to put the alarm clock to such extreme use.

It is simply this: Formula One
coverage has never been broadcast more brilliantly than during Sky's
inaugural transmission from Melbourne on Sunday.

That is not a glib verdict. Nor is it a criticism of the energy brought to the task by the BBC over the last three years.

Nor is it a failure to recognise how ITV introduced revolutionary in-paddock analysis before that.

Nor does it marginalise Murray Walker's high-decibel contribution dating back to the invention of the wheel.

It is just to say that Sky (who had
around 85 staff in Australia, compared to 47 on the McLaren race team)
brought to the paddock the polish that has long marked, most notably,
their football and cricket coverage. They did not trivialise.

They elucidated this most complex of sports but did not patronise. Most strikingly, the chemistry of the team was right.

Take the commentary box. First, we
must accept that there will never be another Walker, now living at his
lovely house in Hampshire and as sharp as a pin at 88.

Favourite feature: Martin Brundle has continued his grid walk with Sky

Favourite feature: Martin Brundle has continued his grid walk with Sky

Television, with its myriad channels, no longer produces that single voice of any one sport.

But in David Croft, formerly of Radio
5 Live, Sky have employed a natural broadcaster whose inflection fits
and accentuates the unfolding drama. I contrast that with the BBC's
pairing last year.

Yes, Martin Brundle and David
Coulthard knew their stuff, but if Michael Schumacher had overtaken five
cars, somersaulted over the fence and hurtled out of the cockpit in a
ball of smoke, it is 50-50 whether they would have thought it worth
breaking off from an earnest discourse on tyre degradation to tell us.

It needed a broadcast journalist to
be amazed when we at home are amazed, to frame the narrative of the
race, to ensure that the technical talk laps the shores of the
commentary rather than sinks it.

Croft allows time and space for
Brundle, now his co-commentator, to get the best analysis and most
arresting phrases out of himself.

When Mark Webber's tyres were shot, Brundle said: 'Ready to hand them back in. I don't think he'll get much for them.'

That was a nice, light touch.

Beyond the commentary box, Sky's
in-house presenter Simon Lazenby went ably from garage to garage and one
paddock hospitality area to the next. I know for certain he was in a
high panic about his debut race.

Formula One is a minefield for any new boy and those internet snipers can be moronically fierce.

But, apart from once calling McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh, 'Martin Wishmarsh', Lazenby was word perfect.

Dream team: Sky's F1 coverage has sent a message out to the BBC

Dream team: Sky's F1 coverage has sent a message out to the BBC

He prompted intelligently and was also refreshingly modest and well-mannered enough not to try to turn himself into the star.

Speaking of manners, I liked the more measured pace of Brundle's grid walk.

There was time to stop for Advance Australia Fair.

Blimey, there was even time to listen to people's answers.

The weekend was also a triumph for former world champion Damon Hill. He was at Lazenby's shoulder throughout, bringing typical thoughtfulness and detachment to the role.

Having been largely absent from the travelling grand prix circus for some years, his perspective came across as fresh.

Another new contributor was the so-called 'Skypad', with its touch-screen gizmos and graphics.

We were intermittently taken 'upstairs', where Georgie Thompson and Anthony Davidson were playing with their new toy.

Davidson is an intelligent and lucid pundit, if perhaps underused in yesterday's casting, something that may be rectified when Hill misses a few races as per his contract.

All this slick production took me back to last season's final race in Brazil and the closing remarks by the BBC's Jake Humphrey.

'The message is clear,' he said. 'The bar has been raised. Can anyone come with a decent challenge'

The answer is, shall we say, clear. And it was in before the birds had started singing.