Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Formula 1 starts 2010 with a headache

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MOTOR-RACING/RENAULTFormer champion Niki Lauda did not mince his words last year when he said that Formula One’s Singapore Grand Prix race-fixing scandal demanded the heaviest of punishments to restore credibility.

A Times headline called Brazilian Nelson Piquet’s deliberate crash at the 2008 race “the worst act of cheating in the history of sport.”

Renault were handed a suspended permanent ban, with the authorities eager to keep them in the sport, while former team boss Flavio Briatore was barred for life and his engineeering head Pat Symonds for five years.

Piquet, the driver at the eye of the storm, walked away without sanction after being handed immunity for telling the governing FIA how he had obeyed orders to help team mate Fernando Alonso to win the race.

The paying F1 driver is back (but not you, Jenson)

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brunosennaJenson Button has earned his rewards but he is still one of the lucky ones.

While the Formula One world champion faces the difficult decision of whether to go to McLaren on six million pounds a year or stay with Brawn/Mercedes for what still amounts to a salary of lottery proportions, other drivers are not so fortunate.

With the departure of leading manufacturers and the effects of the global credit crunch, next year’s starting grid will see the return in numbers of a once familiar species that has been almost extinct in recent years — the paying driver.

Button to McLaren – the real deal or just pretend?

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buttonJenson Button’s eye-catching visit to McLaren on Friday is of obvious benefit to both parties, whatever the reality behind the headlines.

If a deal is done, the new Formula One champion gets the bigger salary that Brawn are reluctant or unable to pay as well as a potentially winning car for next season.

Tears as Toyota pull out of Formula One

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Toyota team principal Tadashi Yamashina was in tears as the Japanese company announced it has withdrawn from Formula One with immediate effect.

Japan has deserted motorsport on mass during the economic crisis (Honda and Bridgestone to name just two).

Ricky Rubio and the Sportswrap speed special

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Ricky Rubio is the one that got away from the NBA. The number five draft pick opted to spend another year or two in Spain rather than join the Minnesota Timberwolves and FC Barcelona are understandably elated to have got him.

Click the video above to see Rubio celebrate his 19th birthday by helping Barcelona demolish Fenerbahce in the Euroleague. We also take a look at Jenson Button’s homecoming after his Formula 1 world title victory, and why batsmen the world over should be glad a certain Usain Bolt opted for track and field over cricket.

Briatore, Symonds step down from Renault

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There’s an extraordinary story breaking just now, with Formula One team Renault releasing a statement saying they will not contest the charge that last year’s Singapore Grand prix was fixed.

Renault also announced that team boss Flavio Briatore and director of engineering Pat Symonds have left the team.

Who should replace Mosley if he does go?

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I asked Max Mosley at a lunch before the start of the Formula One season whether there was anyone masochistic enough to want to take on his job. He laughed.

“Maybe that’s the qualification, that you’ve got to be into that little world…” the FIA president chuckled.

Formula One on the brink as eight teams threaten split

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Formula One plunged into its biggest crisis in 60 years on Friday with eight of the 10 teams announcing plans to set up their own championship.

The teams association FOTA said BMW-Sauber, Brawn, Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull, Renault, Toro Rosso and Toyota were united in a decision that would split the sport in two if carried through.

Monaco madness

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You can charter Flavio Briatore’s Force Blue ‘yacht’ for $235,000 a week during the low season. For that, you get five decks, a gymnasium, Turkish steam bath, cinema and cabin space for 12 guests.

There’s also a mud bath and massage room.

Unfortunately it’s not available during Monaco Grand Prix week, but then life is full of disappointments.

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