Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Button the Bollard?


MOTOR-RACING-PRIX/Formula One championship leader Jenson Button came up with a nice riposte to being likened (in terms of speed) to a kerbstone (‘paracarro’) by Renault boss Flavio Briatore:

“He also needs to remember that he tried to employ me for this year.”

If that is indeed the case, then it prompts several observations.

Firstly, was Briatore trying to ditch Nelson Piquet (no great surprise, perhaps) or looking for a replacement for Fernando Alonso?

Piquet, whose rookie season was distinctly lacklustre, was confirmed for 2009 on Nov. 5 — a month before Button’s Honda team, Brawn GP’s predecessors, announced they were pulling out.

Sports picture of the week



Greg Bos, Reuters Sports Pictures Editor, chooses an outstanding picture from last week:

“It’s not the action that counts here, but the photo opportunity of a formula one driver playing cricket. You can draw your own conclusions whether or not Lewis Hamilton would be able to break into the England cricket team. They could sure use some help.”

F1 set to put brakes on new scoring system


MOTOR RACING/MASSAFormula One looks set to ditch controversial plans to award the championship to the driver who wins most races after the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) performed a late U-turn on Friday.

“If, for any reason, the Formula One teams do not now agree with the new system, its implementation will be deferred until 2010,” the FIA said in a statement.

from Raw Japan:

Toyota’s long and winding F1 road

For not seeing a win since joining Formula One in 2002, Toyota's commitment to the sport is admirable, especially after Honda's pullout in December left the team the last Japanese standing in the glamour sport.

Toyota have been one of F1's biggest spenders, with an estimated annual budget of $300 million, previously exceeded only by Honda. But the question for the sport's perennial underachievers remains just how much cash do they have left to burn?

Formula One threatens to turn upside down


Visitors to the London Science Museum can see Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren hanging upside down from the ceiling as part of an exhibition highlighting the use of Formula One technology in the wider world.

If that all seems topsy-turvy, it’s nothing compared to what’s been going on at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya this week.
The last big pre-season test involving all the teams before the first race in Australia on March 29 has turned the world on its head for Britain’s two drivers and forced a hasty re-assessment of their prospects.
Jenson Button, who last year trundled around in an under-powered Honda that should have been put out of its misery long before it got anywhere near a track, was as bright-eyed as I’ve seen him since he won in Budapest three years ago after his new Brawn turned out to be quite an eye-opener.
The Briton completed an impressive 130 laps on Wednesday, lapping comfortably a second faster than anyone else. On Thursday, his Brazilian team mate Rubens Barrichello went even quicker.
Not bad for two supposed has-beens whose F1 careers looked as good as over only a few months ago.
World champion Hamilton, whose car was the envy of most of his peers in 2008, hit the tyre barriers on Wednesday and ended up last. He was just as slow on Thursday. So not many smiles there.
Button scored three points last season to Hamilton’s 98 and had been dismissed by all and sundry. So much so, that Graham Sharpe of bookmakers Williams Hill had another pot shot at him last week when Brawn finally emerged from the remains of now-departed Honda.

New blood and the return of an old friend


buemiSebastien Buemi might as well order the ‘Formula One Rookie of the Year’ T-shirt right now.

The Toro Rosso driver, whose new car will be unveiled in Barcelona on Monday, looks like being the only new face on the starting grid this season as well as the youngest kid on the track.

Danica Patrick may have to wait for Formula One bow


Danica PatrickFormula One has never let the truth get in the way of a good story and the recent, somewhat feverish, speculation about Danica Patrick is a case in point.

Lewis Hamilton delivered the goods as the sport’s first black world champion and the next big breakthrough has to be getting a woman back onto the starting grid as a driver rather than parading in a swimsuit while clutching a pole with some man’s racing number on it.

F1 drivers need to get real over super-licences


rtr22j1l1hamyjpgA glossy report compiled by Formula Money last year contained a list of estimated Formula One driver salaries, excluding personal endorsements and bonuses, for 2008:

1. Kimi Raikkonen $37 million
2. Fernando Alonso $25 million
3. Lewis Hamilton $20 million
4. Jenson Button $18 million

Back to the good old days


Red Bull Formula One drivers Mark Webber of Australia and Sebastian Vettel of Germany pose for the media next to the RB5 in JerezTime was when a Formula One car launch consisted of little more than a couple of oil-streaked mechanics wheeling their pride and joy out of a lock-up garage on a chilly winter morning at some deserted circuit.

Any media who turned up might raise their collars against the cold, kick their heels for a bit and then head off for a restorative cup of tea.