Tag Archives: Lewis Hamilton

Driven: The Billy Monger Story

Review: Driven – The Billy Monger Story

Motor racing continues to be one of the world’s most dangerous sports, and its history is littered with crashes and accidents that have left people dead or badly hurt.

On April 16th, 2017, Billy Monger, joined that list when he was involved in a high-speed smash at the Donington Park circuit which led to him losing both his legs below the knee.

At the age of 17, he was a rising star of the motorsport world, having placed fifth in the 2015 Ginetta Junior Championship and with two promising F4 seasons under his belt.

The BBC TV documentary Driven – The Billy Monger Story tells the story of how the accident happened and follows the teenager through a long process of rehabilitation and recovery as he seeks to rekindle his dreams of becoming an elite racer.

Not so long ago, such life-changing accidents would also have been career-ending, but Monger’s story is surely one as one of motorsport’s greatest comebacks, and the programme captures his positivity and determination in the face of adversity.

Support

The documentary also shows how crucial both family and public support has been to Monger. His father Rob – a former kart racer himself – played a key role in his recovery phrase, while sister Bonnie’s motivational input was important in terms of the training aspect, especially in the use of his prosthetic limbs.

‘All the support just makes me more determined to get back in the car and win again. That’s my goal’ – Billy Monger

The young racer has also received a huge amount of goodwill from other people – a JustGiving page set up after his accident raised £500,000 in just its first 24 hours.

He’s also had plenty of support from the motorsport world, including from his childhood hero Lewis Hamilton.

The five-time F1 champion says in the documentary: “I think I was affected more by Billy’s accident than I probably have been by most others.

“It really hit home. He was doing well fighting to get to Formula 1, and then such a horrific incident.”

As Monger says: “All the support just makes me more determined to get back in the car and win again. That’s my goal.”

Rule change

The programme also charts how Monger’s determination to return to single-seat racing has led to a change in motorsport’s regulations.

In order to compete in F3, he and his family had to appeal to the FIA, the sport’s international governing body, as its rules prevented disabled drivers from racing in single-seat cars on safety grounds.

The FIA decided to lift the ban in December 2017, allowing disabled drivers to race in modified single-seaters, so Monger’s driving ambitions are now back on track.

He says: “I don’t want my accident and injuries to effect the path in motorsport which I take. Now the ruling has been [made], it makes it possible.

“To have the passion to keep going with single-seaters is where I think I’ll thrive and be at my best, and then I’d love to have the opportunity to do Le Mans like that in the future. That would be awesome.”

Inspiration

In this way, Driven – The Billy Monger Story can also be taken as an inspiration for disabled people as it shows you can achieve so much if you are willing to work hard and fight for your dreams.

This is the key message the documentary delivers, and as a disabled person, it makes me proud that someone like Billy is standing up for the disabled and that he wants to help them get into motor racing.

I hope he continues to be a great role model for future disabled racing drivers.

Feature image courtesy of the BBC. Driven – The Billy Monger story is available to watch on the BBC iPlayer.

F1 2017 season preview

The new Formula 1 season kicks off in Australia this weekend without a defending champion for the first time since 1994 following the shock retirement of Nico Rosberg after clinching the 2016 drivers’ title. 

The announcement came just five days after the German was crowned F1 champion for the first time, bringing chaos to the ‘driver merry-go-round’ over the winter break.

The new season is also notable for the most substantial raft regulation changes since the introduction of the hybrid turbo engine in 2014, with cars set to lap five seconds faster than last season’s models.

The aim is to improve the F1 spectacle. Truth be told, 2016 was not the most exciting campaign, but there is hope – albeit not shared by all parties – that these changes will lead to  more overtaking and more exciting races.

Driver line-ups

Months of speculation followed Rosberg’s retirement before Mercedes finally announced Valtteri Bottas as his replacement. The Finn, 27, earned his seat with the champions after impressing at Williams

In what was likely the shortest ever retirement, Felipe Massa returned to Williams in Bottas’ place, having originally been replaced by now team-mate and F3 champion Lance Stroll. Confusing, right?

Other changes see Belgium’s Stoffel Vandoorne replace Jenson Button at McLaren, with the Briton taking a sabbatical, although whether he’ll return to F1 is debatable.

Vandoorne made his debut for McLaren last year, replacing Fernando Alonso for the Bahrain GP. He became only the second reserve driver to finish in a points-scoring position on their debut after Sebastian Vettel, coming 10th.

Former Mercedes reserve driver Pascal Wehrlien joins Sauber after missing out on the Mercedes race seat to Bottas. Wehrlien was at Manor Racing last year, in a deal where they received Mercedes engines.

The 22-year-old German secured the team’s only point of the year in Australia, and takes the seat of Brazilian Felipe Nasr after he was released by Sauber.

Kevin Magnussen joins Romain Grosjean at Haas Racing after he lost his place at Renault to Nico Hulkenburg, who in-turn has had his seat at Force India filled by Esteban Ocon who drove the second half of 2016 at Manor.

Given that Ocon and Vandoorne have had previous experience on the grid, that means 18-year-old Stroll will be the only true ‘rookie’ driver on lining-up at Australia.

So here’s how the team’s line up:

Scuderia Ferrari: 5 Sebastian Vettel (Germany), 7 Kimi Raikkonen (Finland)

Sahara Force India: 11 Sergio Perez (Mexico), 31 Esteban Ocon (France)

Haas: 8 Romain Grosjean (France), 20 Kevin Magnussen (Denmark)

McLaren Honda: 2 Stoffel Vandoorne (Belgium), 14 Fernando Alonso (Spain)

Mercedes AMG Petronas: 44 Lewis Hamilton (Great Britain), 77 Valterri Bottas (Finland)

Red Bull: 3 Daniel Ricciardo (Australia), 33 Max Verstappen (Holland)

Renault: 27 Nico Huklkenberg (Germany), 30 Jolyon Palmer (Great Britain)

Sauber: 9 Marcus Ericsson (Sweden), 94 Pascal Wehrlein (German)

Scuderia Toro Rosso: 26 Daniil Kvyat (Russia), 55 Carlos Sainz Jr (Spain)

Williams Martini: 18 Lance Stroll (Canada), 19 Felipe Massa (Brazil)

Race calendar 

The 2017 schedule drops back to 20 races, with the German GP axed after F1 supreme Bernie Ecclestone (now deposed from power) failed to reach an agreement with the finically-stricken Hockenheim and Nurburgring circuits.

The race in Baku has been moved back a week to avoid clashing with the Le Mans 24hr race, having also had its title changed from the European to the Azerbaijan GP. Other changes see the British and Hungarian Grand Prix move back a week to fill the gap left by the German race.

March 26 – Australian Grand Prix

April 9 – Chinese Grand Prix

April 16 – Bahrain Grand Prix

April 30 – Russian Grand Prix

May 14 – Spanish Grand Prix

May 28 – Monaco Grand Prix

June 11 – Canadian Grand Prix

June 25 – Azerbaijan Grand Prix

July 9 – Austrian Grand Prix

July 16 – British Grand Prix

July 30 – Hungarian Grand Prix

August 27 – Belgian Grand Prix

September 3 – Italian Grand Prix

September 17 – Singapore Grand Prix

October 1 – Malaysian Grand Prix

October 8 – Japanese Grand Prix

October 22 – United States Grand Prix

October 29 – Mexican Grand Prix

November 12 – Brazilian Grand Prix

November 26 – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Regulation changes

The biggest complaint over the past few seasons from drivers and fans alike has been the inability to constantly push the cars to the limit, due to tyre degradation and fuel-saving.

The new regulations have been designed to drastically increase speed by increasing downforce from both aerodynamic and mechanical methods, in an attempt to better the spectacle and reduce the difficulty of overtaking.

Opinions on the changes have been mixed, however. They have indeed made the cars quicker, but it’s yet to be seen whether we’ll see more overtaking.

There are also some loopholes being closed this season with respect wet-race starts and the 75 grid place penalties we have seen previously.

Technical changes

Cars have had 20cm added to their width, bringing them up to 2m and matching what they were in 1997.

The width of the tyres is also increased by 20% to increase mechanical downforce and in an attempt to better balance where grip comes from, not just relying on aerodynamic downforce – although this has also been improved.

Pirelli have also been given a brief to decrease tyre degradation, allowing drivers to push harder for longer. The downside of these changes is that the increase on drag which could increase the ‘dirty air’ the car produces – one of the main reasons why overtaking is so difficult.

Fuel consumption will also be affected. The more drag, the more fuel consumption, meaning that the cars’ minimum weight limit and fuel consumption have both been increased.

Changes to the front wing, bargeboards, rear wing and diffuser has given more scope to designers to generate increased aerodynamic downforce, again increasing speeds.

Rear and front wings have also been widened by 15 and 20cm respectively, allowing more room for aerodynamic features on the wings. The nose of the car has also been lengthened by 20cm, whilst the rear wing is 15cm lower and mounted 20cm further back, at more of an angle.

Bargeboards will also be returned to pre-2009 prominence, after years of being restricted, again allowing designers to be more creative as they seek greater downforce.

The same applies to the rear diffuser – they are taller, wider and moved further forward, although the regulations here are only slightly more lax in an attempt to keep dirty air to a reasonable level.

Rule changes

Last year’s Belgian GP saw Hamilton take a ‘tactical’ grid penalty of a record 75 places, after reliability issues earlier in the season forced him into a fifth engine change.

Given that this had already dropped him to rear of the grid, Mercedes used the opportunity to change other components, knowing that he could not drop any further back. This season, teams will be unable to ‘stack’ penalties at one race, meaning that individual penalties must be served at individual GPs.

Wet races which start behind the safety car will now having a standing start once the track has been deemed safe. If a race is suspended due to wet weather, however, then it will resume using the traditional rolling safety-car start.

What happened in pre-season testing?

It was Ferrari who set the pace at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest lap of 1:18.634, ahead of team-mate Sebastian Vettel.

Mercedes followed close behind while also being the only team to complete over 1,000 laps, showing they have the reliability to match the speed. It all points towards a fierce competition between Ferrari and Mercedes.

Red Bull and Williams are also looking good, so it seems unlikely to be another one-horse race as it has been for Mercedes over the past few years.

There has been talk that Ferrari were ‘sandbagging’ and could go ever faster. Hamilton has suggested that they are favourites for victory in Melbourne, although Vettel has refuted this.

Despite the team’s speed, it would be unwise for Ferrari fans to get too excited. Last year they also showed similar pre-season pace but failed to win a race in 2016, although another winless season would be surprising.

Mercedes should also benefit from what appears to be a much healthier working relationship between Hamilton and Bottas. This should allow the team to focus solely on on-track matters instead of having to sort out feuding team-mates.

Red Bull, tipped to be Mercedes main challengers, have also shown good pace, alongside Williams who could be the dark horses. Massa was followed by Max Verstappen as the fastest cars behind Ferrari and Mercedes. The two teams will be hopeful of chalking up a few wins between them.

The midfield appears to be very tight – just six-tenths of a second separated Carlos Sainz of Toro Rosso in 7th place down to Kevin Magnussen for Haas in 15th.

McLaren are the team who are once again suffering. Despite the car performing well aerodynamically, there are still big issues with the power unit supplied by Honda.

“No power and no reliability,” is how an increasingly frustrated Fernando Alonso described the car.

Who will win the drivers’ title?

Despite Ferrari’s pace in testing, Hamilton remains a clear favourite to take his fourth title with odds of 11/10 followed by Vettel (10/3).

Hamilton will certainly fired up after the disappointment of narrowly missing out in his fierce battle with Rosberg.

Bottas is not there to make up the numbers, however, and is aiming to give Hamilton a tough time. However, the general consensus is that challenging for the title in his first season at Mercedes will be a step too far for the Finn.

Vettel is widely tipped to be Hamilton’s biggest challenger, and it is hard to argue against that. With Ferrari looking improved this term, it is almost a certainty that the German will be challenging for wins on a more regular basis.

Despite the criticism he occasionally faces regarding his race-craft, Vettel, the most successful driver currently on the grid, has always challenged at the top from pretty much the beginning of his career, and there’s no doubting his speed.

Kimi Raikkonen should also not be overlooked. Perhaps he doesn’t have the raw pace of Vettel, but you can be sure that he will go quietly about his business and perhaps sneak one or two wins.

The team with the most exciting line-up has to be Red Bull. The rivalry between Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, two young, fired-up and immensely talented drivers, could reach the intensity of Rosberg v Hamilton.

Red Bull should never be written off either. They have consistently produced cars capable of victory over the last eight years, although some were expecting them to show a little more pace in pre-season.

Williams, meanwhile, are definitely the dark horses. They have shown impressive pace, clocking faster times than Red Bull, and the return of Paddy Lowe as chief technical officer appears to have helped them to step to the next level.

In the last few seasons, they have been the best-of-the-rest without winning a race. This year, securing their first victory since Pastor Maldonado won the Spanish GP in 2012 is not unlikely.

At last – sport has a spring in its step

Spring is about to give a much-needed boost to the sporting calendar.

Apart from the occasional big event, such as the Australian Open and the Super Bowl, the period between November and March offers pretty thin pickings for armchair sports fans.

Even rugby union’s Six Nations competition is now a long, drawn-out affair, meaning there really are some weekends when we should go outside and take a walk because there is simply nothing worth watching on TV.

But come the end of March, and things start looking up.

Formula 1 is revving up for its new campaign, beginning with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 26th, following swiftly by the first major of the golf season, the Masters at Augusta (April 6-9th).

Football

The 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign is reignited towards the end of the month. England boss Gareth Southgate has gone back to the future by selecting 34-year-old Jermaine Defoe.

The Sunderland striker’s last international match was in November 2013, but he’ll be hoping to feature against Lithuania at Wembley on March 27th.

With Leicester’s Jamie Vardy not finding last season’s form, and Tottenham’s Harry Kane injured, goal threats from midfield inclujding Raheem Sterling, Jesse Lingard and Delle Alli will be key for the Three Lions.

Domestically, if Chelsea continue in their current form, we will not have to wait until May to know who will be crowned the Premier League Champions this season.

Brighton and Newcastle look to have the Championship’s automatic promotion spots sewn up, but they’ve both suffered wobbles in recent weeks and can’t take their eye of the pursuing pack.

Rugby union

With the Six Nations having drawn to its conclusion, the attention of rugby union fans switches to this summer’s eagerly awaited British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand.

It begins in early June, with three Tests against the mighty All Blacks scheduled for June 24th, July 1st and 8th.

The Lions are again being coached by Warren Gatland, who led them to a 2-1 series win in Australia four years ago.

But the Kiwi will know that the best British and Irish talents have their work cut out against the 2011 and 2015 World Cup winners.

Tennis

Maybe it’s just me, but watching Andy Murray trying to win at Wimbledon was more compelling than seeing him actually take the title in 2013, then again last year.

Nonetheless, the British sporting summer will reach its peak in July as the Scot goes for his third men’s singles crown in SW19.

He’d be a popular winner again, but perhaps not as acclaimed as Roger Federer, who’ll be going for his eighth title at the age of 35, having won the Australian Open in January.

Coincidentally, Serena Williams, also 35, will also be chasing an eighth ladies singles crown, having also won in Melbourne.

Athletics

West Ham’s current home will return to it’s original use when the London Stadium hosts the Anniversary Games in July, followed by the World Athletics and ParaAthletics Championships in August.

The Worlds will offer British athletics fans their final chance to see quadruple Olympic champion Sir Mo Farah competing on the track before his switch to road racing.

He’ll be hoping the controversy over claims that his coach Alberto Salazar has at least infringed the spirit of anti-doping rules won’t spoil his track farewell in London.

Another all-time great hanging up his spikes after the Worlds is Usain Bolt; the Jamaican will be aiming to go out with yet more sprint golds to add to his astounding collection.

 

Formula 1

The real reason why March properly kicks off the sporting year is those five lights going out in Melbourne to start the new Formula 1 season.

New cars, new drivers and even new rules are waiting for us on the 26th of March. Last year we said goodbye to the German Grand Prix, Jenson Button and Manor racing who folded.

This year, we say hello to Stoffel Vandoorne at McLaren, Lance Stroll at Williams and myriad technical rule changes.

The arrival of Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes has fans rubbing their hands with excitement.

The Finn has already confirmed his talents at Williams, but how will he measure up against new team-mate and triple F1 champion Lewis Hamilton – surely the best driver of the current era?

Bottas’s predecessor Nico Rosberg took the drivers crown last season but promptly retired, not wishing to face another year of battling Hamilton for the title.

Duty calls in the paintball combat zone

For members of the current gaming generation, the closest to ‘Call of Duty’ that most of us will ever get involves going paintballing.

So after endless nights of honing our combat skills as console warriors, that’s exactly what me and a group of friends signed up to do at the suitably-named Delta Force.

None of us were really up for rolling around in the mud on a cold, wet afternoon, but after a conference call led to arguments over who was the best at first-person shoot-em-ups, suddenly everyone was fired up and ready to literally give it their best shot.

Delta Force has 33 venues nationwide, and its Upminster facility in east London is regarded as one of the best, offering seven game zones which boast a jet aeroplane, four double-decker buses, armoured vehicles, forts and ‘jungle’ environments.

Established in Surrey 20 years ago, the company hosts 500,000 players annually and employs over 1,000 staff to make sure your day out is fun but safe.

Celebrities who have enjoyed the Delta Force and are pictured in its hall of fame include Lewis Hamilton, John Terry, Usain Bolt and Gordon Ramsey.

Safety briefing

The day started early as we had to be on site by 7am in order to get kitted up briefed for the day ahead.

Upon arrival, we were issued with jump suits and helmets as part of our protective gear. Underneath my jump suit, I’d taken matters into my own usain_bolthands and came wearing extra padding to reduce the pain of being shot.

Safety is taken seriously and the briefing to took almost half an hour, and then it was time to enter the field.

The marshals’s are very big on safety, once you exit the ‘safe zone’ to pick up your gun, your protective helmet can’t come off until you return your gun and re-enter the safe zone.

Not even when you have been shot and are out of the game – if you are found to have removed or lifted your helmet you will find it quickly slammed down over your face by a marshal and you are then on a final warning before you have to be removed.

All safety equipment is included in the adult entry price of £9.99, and the only thing you pay extra for are your paintballs.

These always seem to run out, no matter how many you buy, and the more you purchase the more you have to carry with you on the battlefield with the risk of losing them.

To avoid disappointment, at the beginning of every battle, I bought 100 for £7.99.

After picking up our guns, we had the option of getting our eye in on the shooting range, but as experienced Call of Duty players, we decided to save our bullets for when it really mattered.

Bait

The first zone was called ‘Jet Hijack’, and as the attacking team we had to storm an aircraft and free hostages from the ‘terrorists’ holding them captive.

Staying low and getting close to the plane was key, but because it was in the centre of a open field, its defenders had a clean shot at us.

“Shooting someone especially when it’s a friend is a great feeling and gives you plenty to boast about afterwards”

That’s where our gaming experience kicked in, and half of us acted as bait to draw their fire while the rest of the team played the role of assassins taking out the enemy one by one until the hostages were in safe hands.

Ambushing the plane to save the hostages meant I got shot and was out until the next time, and being shot by a paintball is one of the most painful things I have experienced.

Although I was wearing a protective mask, I was some how shot on my lip through the mask and had to raise my hand (surrender) to alert everyone that I had been hit and was out.

Once you surrender, people aren’ t meant to shoot you but some of the opposition see it as the perfect opportunity to test their long-range shooting and hit you for fun.

Being hit in the face is pretty painful, but most people tell me that being shot on your hand is the worst place to be hit because of the lack of fat.

In comparison, shooting someone especially when it’s a friend is a great feeling and gives you plenty to boast about afterwards.

Ceasefire

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Each game has its own objectives for the defending and attacking teams, and each team faces obstacles in trying to achieve their objectives, but ‘Jet Hijack’ was my personal favourite.

Six battles and countless hits, misses and minor bruises later, the day had ended and out of the 10 teams taking part we finished a respectable fourth.

Playing against experienced players and older groups of lads showed us that we need to play Call of Duty a lot more often to be able to mix it with the hardcore paintballers.

We were up against groups of friends who take paintballing very serious to the point where they bring their own guns, grenades and armour.

Recreating real-life combat situations is clearly very different, and a lot more demanding, than sitting on your sofa in front of the TV screen.

But I would recommend paintballing to everyone – the thrill of shooting your first round is like no other.

To find out where you can experience paintballing at Delta Force, visit their website.

Top five F1 championship finales

This weekend sees the climax to another thrilling Formula One season, with Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton going head to head for the World Drivers’ Championship.

For the second time in three years, Rosberg and Hamilton head the pack going into the Abu Dhabi finale.

This time, it’s Rosberg who is the clear favourite, given his 12-point lead – but there are still several ways Hamilton could come from behind to snatch the title from his team-mate.

Rosberg will win the 2016 crown if he finishes on the podium. Hamilton must finish within the top four to stand any chance of snatching the championship – but even then he needs a helping hand from his German rival.

The title has been won in the final race of the year 28 times in the 66 seasons it has been awarded.

Elephant Sport selects its top five final-race championship deciders; many British motorsport fans will be hoping that this weekend’s finale will be added to the list.

1984: Niki Lauda wins by the finest of margins

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1984 team mates Alain Prost (left) & Niki Lauda (right)

The 1984 season came to a dramatic conclusion in the final round at Estoril, Portugal.

The campaign was dominated by McLaren drivers Niki Lauda and Alain Prost.

Frenchman Prost had won seven races to Lauda’s five, but Lauda eventually prevailed by half a point – the smallest margin in F1 history.

Prost qualified second, Lauda 11th. There were shirts and posters already printed that stated “Prost: 1984 World Champion”; but Austria’s Lauda proved them wrong by climbing up to third.

Prost moved up to first and led most of the race, with Nigel Mansell in second in his last race for Lotus before moving to Williams. Mansell retired due to persistent brake problems, Lauda duly moved up to second- ensuring his third drivers crown.

1986: Heartbreak for Nigel Mansell

Three drivers stood a chance of claiming the drivers’ championship in the 1986 season finale in Australia.

Mansell, with 70 points, needed at least third place to beat Prost, who had 64. Nelson Piquet had 63 points going into the final race.

Mclaren’s Keke Rosberg initially led Piquet, with Prost third ahead of Mansell.

The turning point in the race came on lap 32, a blessing in disguise for Prost. The Frenchman’s right front tyre punctured forcing him to make a pitstop, and he returned to the track in fourth.

It looked as though Prost’s race was ruined, but it eventually proved key to him winning. Goodyear technicians inspected his punctured tyre and saw that it was actually in good condition.

The technicians informed the other teams that they could reach the end of the race, without needing to stop to fit fresh tyres.

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Mansell’s 1986 championship dreams explode

But on lap 63, race leader Rosberg retired with a tyre de-lamination; the compound tyres were not lasting the race.

With the McLaren gone there was one less car standing between Mansell and the title, and it mattered not that Prost had passed him, leaving the Briton third once again.

Mansell was on lap 64 of 82, when, cruising down the main straight, his left-rear tyre exploded and a shower of sparks burst from the rear of his car.

His catastrophic exit remains one of F1’s most enduring images, and it left Piquet leading from Prost.

The Brazilian on the verge of winning the championship, but there was no hesitation in bringing him in for fresh tyres.

That left Prost in the lead, thanks to his early pitstop. Luck was definitely on his side that day as he secured a second drivers championship.

1994 & 1997: Schumacher madness

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Schumacher controversially collides with Hill in the 1994 season finale

Two similar incidents occurred in the final races of both the 1994 and 1997 seasons to determine the world whampion, both involving Michael Schumacher.

1994 saw Schumacher pip Damon Hill to the title by one point in the last race of the season (Australia).

On lap 35, Hill was right behind the German, who led, when he saw his chance to pass. As Hill’s Williams drew alongside the Benetton, Schumacher appeared to turn in aggressively and there was contact between the two cars.

The Benetton was damaged badly enough to mean immediate retirement. Hill’s car initially appeared to be okay but soon he was also back in the pits and out of the race.

This left Schumacher champion on 92 points, with Hill on 91. The controversy and speculation was furthered when ‘Schumi’ attempted the same trick to win the 1997 title.

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And again in 1997; Schumacher collides with championship rival Jacques Villeneuve

Unfortunately for the German, it backfired.

On lap 48 of the season finale at Jerez, championship rival Jacques Villeneuve was catching Schumacher and attempted to overtake.

The Canadian had the inside line and was slightly ahead when Schumacher turned into him, his front right wheel connecting with the side of the Williams car.

Schumacher had ended his own race but Villeneuve was able to continue and went pn to take third place – enough to win the championship.

The German was later punished by for causing an avoidable accident and was disqualified from the 1997 championship.

2008: Hamilton’s last-corner victory

The 2008 finale in Brazil was one of the most dramatic yet, fought out in wet conditions between Hamilton (McLaren) and Felipe Massa (Ferrari).

Hamilton led by seven points going into the final round. A maximum of ten were available for thewinner, which meant that Massa could win the title if Hamilton finished sixth or lower.

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 02: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren Mercedes drives on his way to winning the Formula One World Championship during the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Interlagos Circuit on November 2, 2008 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Hamilton dramatically passes Glock on the last corner of the race

A late-race rain shower looked to have cost Hamilton the title when he dropped to sixth after a stop for wet tyres.

Massa had won the race and prematurely began his celebrations.

But Hamilton managed to pass Toyota’s Timo Glock quite literally on the last corner of the last lap, to finish in fifth and clinch his first world title.

2010: Four-way showdown in the dessert

In 2010 as many as five drivers from three teams were in contention for the title. At different points in the season Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull all seemed to have the car to beat.

Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso all went to the final race in Abu Dhabi still with a chance of taking the drivers crown.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 14: Race winner and F1 2010 World Champion Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium following the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit on November 14, 2010 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Sebastian Vettel
An emotional Vettel clinches his first championship in 2010

Hamilton was an outsider in the McLaren with team-mate Jenson Button’s title hopes slipping away before the campaign’s climax in the desert.

Vettel drove a masterful race in the Red Bull to win and lift his maiden F1 title.

The German was third in the standings prior to the race but led from pole and saw other outcomes go his way to become F1’s youngest champion.

Ferrari’s championship leader Alonso came seventh after a poor pitstop strategy saw him stuck behind Renault’s Vitaly Petrov, and the same fate befell Webber (Red Bull) who finished eighth.

Hamilton, who had a slim title chance, finished second but it wasn’t enough. It was a dramatic end to an enthralling season and gave Red Bull their first drivers’ title.

The final standings had Vettel top on 256 points, four clear of Alonso, 14 above third-place Webber and 16 in front of Hamilton in fourth.

Overall, 32 different drivers have won the F1 drivers title, with Schumacher holding the record with seven.

Rosberg will be hoping to become No.33 by winning his first championship this weekend.

The current Drivers’ Champion is Hamilton, who won his first World Championship in 2008, regained it in 2014 and retained it in 2015.

But Hamilton, having been involved in several final-race showdowns, will know that the championship may not be so straightforward for Rosberg who is overdue some bad luck.

The lights go out on Sunday at 1pm (GMT) but the drama will begin on Saturday at 1pm with the all-important qualifying session to decide who begins on pole.

Why Hamilton can still win the F1 drivers’ crown

The Brazilian Grand Prix has served up incident-packed races ever since it first appeared on the F1 calendar in 1973.

And a good dose drama at Interlagos is exactly what Lewis Hamilton needs if he is to take the drivers’ championship into the final round in Abu Dhabi.

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Hamilton cannot afford to see Rosberg celebrating a win in Brazil

His Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg will take the crown if he wins either of the year’s two remaining races, or by finishing with at least one second and third place even if Hamilton wins in both Brazil and Abu Dhabi.

So can Hamilton snatch the title out of the German’s grasp despite trailing him by 19 points?

Most petrolheads will tell you that Interlagos is a circuit that produces tantalisingly good races – contests that, down the years, have seen many championships won and lost.

So Britain’s three-time F1 champion only needs to glance through the Brazilian GP’s history to be hopeful of derailing Rosberg’s title dream.

Comebacks and drama

In 2006, Michael Schumacher proved the circuit is one for overtaking. Starting from 10th position on the grid, the German did an astonishing job after falling to 19th position due to a flat tyre.

The seven-time world champion returned to the race, having almost been lapped, and carved his way through the field to finish in fourth place.

“Hamilton will take confidence from replaying his 2008 outing at Interlagos, showing that miracles in Brazil can happen.”

‘Schumi’s’ performance was agonisingly not enough to win his eighth drivers’ crown, as Fernando Alonso successfully defended his title.

Hamilton will also surely take confidence from replaying his own 2008 outing at Interlagos, showing that miracles in Brazil can happen.

After adopting a conservative strategy to secure at least 5th place, and the title, a late-race rain shower caused unexpected problems.

Hamilton wins the championship at the last corner in Brazil 2008

Hamilton was pushed down to 5th place by Timo Glock who didn’t enter the pits for intermediates like most others.

With just three laps to go, Sebastian Vettel overtook the Briton which meant Hamilton would end up with equal points to Massa, but with one fewer victory.

Against all expectations Vettel and Hamilton were able to overtake Glock, who had lost all grip with his dry-weather tyres, in the very last corner of the race.

This meant that Hamilton ultimately grabbed the fifth place he needed to become champion.

The 2009 season saw more drama as Jenson Button sealed the drivers’ championship with a sublime recovery drive, starting in 14th but finishing fourth.

In 2012, the outcome of the championship remained in doubt until the final lap, as Vettel – who fell to the back of the field on the first lap – drove a gritty race back through the pack to seal the title.

Although Hamilton is yet to win in Brazil, he can take confidence in denting Rosberg’s maiden title hopes from the tracks record of drama.

Weather

Rain is nothing out of the ordinary at Interlagos in November, and so the weather might also give Hamilton a helping hand.

He won’t have forgetten the Monaco GP earlier this year, which he won in in wet conditions while Rosberg struggled home in seventh place.

Inclement weather often courses havoc in F1, with drivers’ race strategies hit by puddles and spray, while chopping and changing tyres from full wets, to intermediates and back to slicks can often catch them out.

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Rain is a regular occurrence at the Brazilian GP

The forecast for Sao Paulo suggests there is a chance of low temperatures and showers on Saturday and Sunday.

Another seventh placed finish for Rosberg and a win in the wet for Hamilton would leave the pair level on 355 points going into the final weekend in Abu-Dhabi.

Three of the last six race weekends in Brazil have featured wet weather.

Combine that with Interlagos being a tight, twisty circuit which dries out quite quickly, and unpredictability is almost guaranteed.

For example, Nico Hulkenberg won a surprise pole position for Williams on a drying track in 2010.

A full-on wet race could also swing the balance towards Red Bull who have looked strong in the rain this season.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finished second in a wet British GP earlier this year with Hamilton winning, Rosberg third and Verstappen’s team mate Daniel Ricciardo fourth.

Rosberg overdue bad luck

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Hamilton breaks down in Malaysia

Over the course of the year Rosberg has surprisingly only won one more race than Hamilton, despite the large points difference between the two.

Hamilton has had the lump sum of bad luck between the pair. You only need to glance at the table below to see that Rosberg is due a blip.

Race’s in which Mercedes drivers have had problems

Race order Driver Problem
Bahrain Hamilton Hamilton suffered a first-corner collision dropping to 7th; he fought back to 3rd
China Hamilton Hamilton started at the back of the grid due to a power unit failure; he finished 7th
Russia Hamilton The Brit started 10th after an engine failure in qualifying; he finished 5th.
Spain Hamilton & Rosberg Rosberg and Hamilton collided on the first lap resulting in both not finishing the race
Canada Rosberg The German finished 5th after suffering a slow puncture during the race
Austria Rosberg The German turned into a corner late as Hamilton tried to pass around the outside and damaged his front wing, finishing fourth. Rosberg was given a 10-second penalty.
Belgium Hamilton Hamilton started in 21st place on the grid, after a raft of engine penalties resulting from failures early in the season. He fought back to third.
Malaysia Hamilton Hamilton’s title hopes were dealt a heavy blow when his engine failed as he led the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Just one error for Rosberg will blow the championship wide open, be it in the wet conditions he’s struggled in this season, the drama the Brazilian GP often throws up or an overdue car performance issue for the German.

If Hamilton can emulate his hero Senna and notch his first win at the late Brazilian’s home circuit; the current world champ could bolster his chances of defending his crown and taking it right down to the wire in Abu-Dhabi.

Team-mates, not mates

In everyday life, there will be people we come across and have to work alongside that we will not get along with. Sport is the same, it happens, and when it does it’s often broadcast on TV for the world to see.

From fights on the football pitch in front of thousands of fans, to bitter feuds on and off the racing track and widely-publicised affairs, sportspeople often provide added drama for fans to lap up.

We look at five of the best (worst?) feuds between sporting team-mates.

5. Eyal Berkovic v John Hartson

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Training ground bust-ups are usually kept in-house and dealt with swiftly and discretely by the club in question.

But when West Ham’s Eyal Berkovic reacted badly to a tackle by big John Hartson by punching the Scotsman in the leg. John Hartson took matters into his own feet, so to speak, and delivered a kick an MMA fighter would be proud of to the head of Berkovic, sending him back down to the ground.

As the incident was caught on camera and shared for the world to see, the FA were able to take action against the Welsh striker and charge him – the first player to be punished for misconduct in a training ground indecent.

4. Lee Bowyer v Keiron Dyer

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Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer decided the best place to scrap about the latter not passing the ball was in front of 50,000 fans at St. James’ Park while they were losing 3-0 to Aston Villa.

It took Villa captain Gareth Barry, aided by Newcastle’s Stephen Carr, to break the pair up as they traded punches in the middle of the pitch.

Both of the England internationals were subsequently red carded by the referee and trooped off with ripped shirts. With Stephen Taylor sent off earlier in the game, it left the hosts with just nine men.

The TV cameras caught a brilliant shot of the two fighters sitting either side of the fuming Magpies boss Graeme Souness like naughty school kids.

On top of the automatic three-game ban for seeing red, Bowyer was additionally fined £30,00 and given an additional three-game ban and he was further punished by Newcastle for throwing the first punch as they fined him six weeks wages.

No.3 Wayne Bridge v John Terry

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Footballers are infamous for their womanising ways, but not many make the mistake of cheating with the partner of a team-mate.

However, that’s exactly what Chelsea skipper John Terry did with Vanessa Perroncel after she and Wayne Bridge split up.

Although the couple weren’t technically an item anymore, Terry’s conduct damaged his career with both the Blues and England.

The defender used a super-injunction to try and stop the news from coming out, but it was lifted by the courts and the newspapers jumped at the opportunity to carry lurid details of his affair.

Bridge left the club and joined Manchester City, in 2010, and City beat Chelsea in the first home defeat of the season.

But the headlines were made before the game had kicked off as because Bridge refused to acknowledge England team-mate Terry in the routine pre-match handshakes.

Bridge subsequently moved to West Ham but again refused to shake Terry’s hand when they played Chelsea.

No.2 Bill Romanowski v Marcus Williams

The NFL is known for its tough players and hard-hitting tackles, but in 2003 Oakland Raiders line-backer Bill Romanowski ended team-mate Marcus Williams’ career by removing his helmet and punching him in the face for “holding him in a drill”.

Williams sued Romanowski for battery, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The assault left him with a broken eye socket, concussion, double vision, and – he claimed in his lawsuit – depression and memory issues.

Two years after the incident, the case was settled, with Romanowski ordered to pay $40,000 in medical expenses and $300,000 in damages to Williams.

As this incident took place in training there isn’t any official footage of the career ending punch, but here is a clip of the tough tackler breaking an opponent’s jaw:

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No.1 Lewis Hamilton v Nico Rosberg

Formula One, described as an ‘individual’ team sport, has brought fans some of the most entertaining feuds between team-mates.

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have been together at Mercedes since the 2013 season and have provided their fair share of dramatic incidents.

Their rivalry began at the Bahrain GP in 2012, when Rosberg was referred to the stewards for driving Hamilton – then with McLaren – off the track as he defended his racing line.

The following year at the Malaysian GP, Hamilton earned his first victory for his new team Mercedes. This was aided by team orders to Rosberg who was told to “Hold station behind in fourth” to allow his team-mate to win.

After the race, Hamilton said “If I’m honest, I feel Nico should be standing here.”

In 2014, another three incidents between the two drivers fuelled the feud. First, Rosberg’s dubious qualifying crash in Monaco stopped Hamilton from setting a faster lap time.

In Hungary, Hamilton ignoring team orders to let Rosberg overtake him, and in Belgium, Hamilton accused Rosberg of deliberately colliding with him, resulting in a puncture.

More chapters have been added to the feud between the former karting buddies this season.

At the Spanish Grand Prix, the pair were so intent on outdoing each other at the start that they collided and both crashed out.

The Canadian GP saw Hamilton start aggressively, trying to bully Rosberg out of the way. As Hamilton barged through he made contact with Rosberg’s car and forced him on to the grass which resulted in the German only finishing fifth while the British driver went on to win.

The most recent spat in the on-going rivalry came in Austria, with the Mercedes duo on the final lap and on course for a first and second place.

But when Hamilton decided to make a late bid for victory, Rosberg was not in the mood to let him and tried to nudge Hamilton out the way. In doing so, the German was handed a penalty, surrendering the lead and a podium finish as he subsequently finished in fourth place.

He may get the last laugh this season, though, with time running out for Hamilton to overhaul him in the race for the drivers’ championship.