Ferrari’s struggles unlikely to end at home race at Monza

Last year Charles Leclerc was cheered by thousands of passionate Ferrari fans at Monza after he ended the team’s nine-year wait for victory at its home circuit.

Fast forward 12 months and things will be very different at Formula One’s Italian Grand Prix and not just because of the lack of fans because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ferrari’s bad year is getting worse as each race goes by. Leclerc finished 14th at last weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, just behind teammate Sebastian Vettel. Both were over a minute behind race winner and championship leader Lewis Hamilton.

“No miracles expected this weekend but hopefully we can be a bit better than we were at Spa,” Leclerc said at a news conference on Thursday.

Vettel is a four-time champion but has not even finished in the top five this season — and has been 10th or lower in four races.

“I’m not going to lie it’s not going to be an easy weekend for us,” Vettel said. “I think it’s very difficult to expect a big change from last weekend. Having said that though, last weekend we were a little bit worse off than normal so I hope we can be back to normal.

“But we also know that these type of tracks do hurt us by nature so we will see. We’re here to fight and we’re here to fight for the tifosi (fans) as well and we are doing the utmost we can.”

Team principal Mattia Binotto seems at a loss on how to turn things around at the once-dominant Ferrari and said recently that it could take years before it is back in a winning cycle.

Vettel will not be there for that as he is leaving at the end of the season but Leclerc is under contract until the

Read More

IPL 2020: Revamped Sharjah Cricket Stadium gearing up nicely for T20 extravaganza

More than six years after it hosted Indian Premier League (IPL) clashes, a revamped Sharjah Cricket Stadium is ready to greet players for the 2020 edition in UAE.

The iconic venue has played host to more ODI clashes (240) than any other venue in the world, and is all set to put its best foot forward for the T20 extravaganza, which gets under way on September 19.

Major enhancement work has been undertaken to beautify the stadium, with new canopies constructed to add a splash of colour. The Royal Suite and the VIP Hospitality boxes are some of the facilities to have undergone a major facelift.

While there is still no word on whether spectators will be allowed in the IPL, the latest renovations will certainly make for an enhanced viewing experience in the historic stadium.

With the tournament being played in the background COVID-19 pandemic, special sanitary measures have been implemented around the stadium to maintain the bio-secure bubble.

These include the player’s pavilion, practice facilities and the commentators box. The spruced-up facilities are already being put to use for training by a couple of franchises including the Rajasthan Royals.

Various renovations have taken place at the venue over the last few years, including a state-of-the-art gym and larger changing rooms.

“We are taking every possible precaution to ensure the safety of everyone from players support staff to franchise owners and it’s our key aim is to keep that bubble intact right through the tournament,” said Waleed Bhuktir, Vice Chairman of the Sharjah Cricket Ground.

“No effort will be spared and we are going about it in a systematic and scientific way.”

The historic stadium has seen international cricket action for more than three decades now, with the first ODI played as far back as 1984.

Safety norms are

Read More

Claire Williams leaving as the F1 team’s deputy principal

After more than 40 years running one of Formula One’s most storied teams, the Williams family is stepping aside so that its new owners have a clear shot at reviving the team’s fortunes.

Claire Williams, whose father co-founded the Williams F1 team, is stepping down as deputy team principal after this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.

The move follows the recent change in ownership to American-based investment firm Dorilton Capital, and means that the famed F1 family will cut its ties after 43 years and nearly 750 races.

“I have taken the decision to step away from the team in order to allow Dorilton a fresh start as the new owners. It has not been an easy decision but it’s one I believe to be right for all involved,” Williams said in a statement Thursday. “With the future of the team now secured, this feels like the appropriate time for us to step away from the sport.”

The team was co-founded by Frank Williams, her father, and won seven drivers’ championships and nine constructors’ titles since entering the sport in 1977. However, the last of those came with Jacques Villeneuve behind the wheel in 1997.

The British-based team finished rock bottom in the constructors’ standings in the past two seasons, and in 2019 scored only one point from Robert Kubica’s 10th-place finish.

Storied names have driven for the team, including multiple world champions Alain Prost, Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna. British world champions Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill helped the team become hugely popular with home fans.

Williams has won 114 races, taken 128 pole positions and is the third-longest standing team in the history of the series.

“We have been in this sport for more than four decades. We are incredibly proud of our track record and the legacy we

Read More