Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Remembering Bruce McLaren

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Ferrari made much of their 800th Formula One grand prix in Turkey last Sunday, throwing a party in Istanbul and racing with the number 800 on their cars’ engine covers.

It was just a shame their performance on the track was nothing to shout about.

Over at McLaren, a more poignant milestone was being marked more discretely — one fittingly capped by Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button finishing one-two in the race while the sport’s only Antipodean driver, Mark Webber, joined them on the podium.

Wednesday, June 2, will be the 40th anniversary of team founder Bruce McLaren’s death in a testing accident at the Goodwood circuit in southern England.

The New Zealander, whose team would ultimately go on to become one of the sport’s most successful, was only 32 years old.

Who do you think you are? Lewis Hamilton?

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MOTOR-RACING-PRIX/An irresistible story from Melbourne, where Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton was stopped by the police for “over-exuberant” driving on the road.

Hamilton was fastest in practice for the Australian Grand Prix on Friday and apparently struggled to make the adjustment to his road car. Here’s the story from Ian Ransom in Melbourne and Alan Baldwin in London:

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.

Peace breaks out in Formula One

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Formula One stepped back from the brink on Wednesday as FIA president Max Mosley agreed a compromise with FOTA, the Teams’ Association, to save the sport from a rival breakaway series.

The disagreement, which centred on Mosley’s plans to introduce a budget cap for the 2010 season, had threatened to end Formula One’s 60-year existence with eight teams including champions Ferrari prepared to walk away for good.

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.

Talking Turkey with Lewis Hamilton

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Of all the corners in Formula One this season, turn eight at the Istanbul Park Circuit subjects drivers to the highest G-forces (around 5G, or five times their body weight).

It is a long, sweeping multi-apex corner that yearns to be taken flat out (270kph+) but that will see only a handful — probably only the Brawns, Red Bulls and Ferraris — manage to do it this
weekend.

Interviewing Lewis Hamilton

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Lewis Hamilton is resigned to the fact that his formula 1 world title defence could last only a handful more races and the McLaren driver has anointed fellow-Briton Jenson Button as his heir apparent.

“I think Jenson’s got a great chance, a great shot at it so I wish him all the best,” Hamilton told Reuters in an interview at the McLaren factory when asked who was going to win the championship.

The focus is on Hamilton now

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McLaren’s suspended suspension (also known as a slap on the wrists) for lying to stewards allows Lewis Hamilton to get on with what he does best and that is fighting for the championship.

A three-race ban would have just about ended the 24-year-old’s chances, which had not been looking too good anyway even without any sanction.

Have McLaren been punished enough already?

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hamiltonMcLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh celebrates his 51st birthday on Wednesday and it doesn’t look like being much fun.

You can bet he would rather be anywhere else than appearing before Formula One’s governing body in Paris to take the rap for his team ‘deliberately misleading’ race stewards.

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