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Sebastian Vettel backs Ferrari’s ‘extreme’ design in bid for F1 title

• Four-times F1 champion ‘really excited’ by Ferrari’s new car
• Mattia Binotto says team ‘tried to be as extreme as we could’

Sebastian Vettel is confident Ferrari have the car to mount a strong fight for the Formula One title . The team unveiled the SF90 at Marenello on Friday as they attempt to end more than a decade without winning F1, with the team principal, Mattia Binotto, describing the design as an “evolution” pushed to be “extreme”.

The car is named to recognise the 90 years since Enzo Ferrari established the Scuderia at Modena in 1929. Since then they have competed in every F1 championship and are the most successful team in the sport. However they have not won the drivers’ championship since Kimi Raikkonen’s victory in 2007 and the constructors’ since 2008. Last season their challenge fell away as Vettel made mistakes and the team failed to match the development of Mercedes.

Related: Will Mattia Binotto reinvigorate unruly Ferrari’s F1 fortunes? | Giles Richards

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McLaren’s Lando Norris expects to learn from errors in debut F1 season

The 19-year-old faces a stern task to follow on from Fernando Alonso but knows his first campaign will be a learning curve

Lando Norris, who next month will become the youngest British driver to compete in Formula One, has said he knows he will make mistakes while under the intense scrutiny of his debut season for McLaren. Norris will be 19 at the first grand prix in Melbourne and faces by far the most challenging test of his career as he seeks to make his mark at a team still in the throes of rebuilding after four years of underperformance.

Norris and his teammate Carlos Sainz Jr replace Fernando Alonso, who has retired from F1, and Stoffel Vandoorne, who was dropped by McLaren at the end of last season.

Related: Lewis Hamilton ‘ready to attack’ as he vows to better 2018 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton ‘ready to attack’ as he vows to better 2018 F1 season

• British driver fires warning to Formula One rivals
• Mercedes unveil new car for 2019 season

Lewis Hamilton has expressed his eagerness to achieve further success in Formula One, having taken to the wheel of his new Mercedes for the first time on Wednesday. The British driver put the W10 car through its paces after it was unveiled at Silverstone and, having secured his fifth world championship last season, he appears confident Mercedes have given him the machinery to enable him to defend his title.

Hamilton saw off the threat of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in 2018 while Mercedes secured a fifth consecutive constructors’ championship and, though new aero regulations mean the cars have been redesigned, they believe they have found further improvements.

Related: McLaren lands commercial deal with British American Tobacco

Related: Max Verstappen will be compelling F1 watch, more so if engine can deliver

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McLaren lands commercial deal with British American Tobacco

• BAT will promote its electronic smoking alternatives
• Williams launches 2019 car in a different shade of blue

British American Tobacco, which withdrew from Formula One in 2006, when tobacco advertising was banned from the sport, is to return in a “global partnership” with McLaren. BAT is the second tobacco company to return to F1 for promotional purposes that are not covered by the ban.

BAT ran its own team after buying Tyrrell in 1997 and formally entered in 1999 as British American Racing. They took 15 podium places and Jenson Button was at the wheel during their most successful season, when they were second in the 2004 constructors’ championship. The team were sold to Honda in 2006.

Related: Ferrari replace team principal Maurizio Arrivabene after poor season

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Max Verstappen will be compelling F1 watch, more so if engine can deliver

Dutchman is starting his fifth season in F1 and the principal thinks that the 21-year-old’s work with Honda will produce a more invested and rounded driver

Mad Max no more was the Red Bull team principal Christian Horner’s assessment of his driver Max Verstappen’s forthcoming season. Horner, always engaging in discussing the characters of his drivers, was confident that this year it will be mature Max behind the wheel. Yet the test the young Dutchman faces may be his most challenging; watching whether he can deliver on Horner’s optimism should be compelling.

Verstappen is 21, and has an undeniable talent, aligned to a forceful, uncompromising self belief that has been at times to his detriment as well as his advantage. In both cases he has been impossible to ignore. F1 needs characters fans can relate to and care about, and in that sense Verstappen’s name is already writ large on the marquee.

Related: ‘You expect me to shake his hand?’ – Verstappen stands by push on Ocon

Related: Liberty Media underestimated what it took on in F1, says Christian Horner

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Liberty Media underestimated what it took on in F1, says Christian Horner

• Red Bull principal questions American owners’ approach
• ‘They probably thought there was some very low-hanging fruit’

Christian Horner, Red Bull’s team principal, believes Formula One’s owner, Liberty Media, has seriously underestimated the challenge it faces in running the sport. Horner also questioned the company’s attempt to use a US-based approach to F1 and said he does not expect rule changes imposed for the new season to be effective.

Related: Max Verstappen tipped to battle for Red Bull race seat by Christian Horner

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Chase Carey says F1 will not change approach despite promoters’ concern

• F1 chief executive understood to be upset by criticism
• ‘We will go forward and do what we are doing’

Formula One’s chief executive, Chase Carey, has hit back in his row with race promoters by insisting the sport’s owners will not change their approach.

F1 met with unhappy grands prix chiefs in London last week after they issued a statement criticising how the sport is being run.

Related: F1 promoters association expecting more cooperation from Liberty Media

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F1 promoters association expecting more cooperation from Liberty Media

• Fopa optimistic after meeting with the sport’s owners
• Concerns remain over future of British Grand Prix

The race promoters in Formula One believe their criticism of the sport’s owner, Liberty Media, has proved to be worthwhile but expect the company to work more closely with them in future.

Liberty met the Formula One Promoters’ Association (Fopa) on Tuesday after the organisation had raised serious concerns at the way the sport was being run. Stuart Pringle, who is the managing director of the Silverstone circuit and chair of Fopa, was largely positive after the meeting.

Related: F1 exploring options for a London grand prix, says Ross Brawn

Related: Fearless esports racers blur lines between games and the real thing | Andy Bull

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‘All our hearts are very red’ – Mick Schumacher enters Ferrari maelstrom | Giles Richards

Michael Schumacher’s son kept his head down while rising through the ranks but driving in F2 and testing a Ferrari F1 car will put the 19-year-old in the spotlight like never before

Four years ago when Michael Schumacher’s son, Mick, made his car racing debut, there was an unmistakable sense of anticipation and excitement in the air. It was clearly the return of the Schumacher name to racing that had brought so many people to the unostentatious Oschersleben circuit in Germany.

The interest in Mick has only grown since but now he has joined the Ferrari driver academy, is set to compete in F2 and highly likely to test a Ferrari F1 car this season, Oschersleben was a bagatelle compared with the maelstrom the 19-year-old is about to enter.

Related: Michael Schumacher’s son progresses to bring hope in tragic F1 tale | Richard Williams

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Fearless esports racers blur lines between games and the real thing | Andy Bull

McLaren are investing in sim racing which, they think, could lead to an F1 champion in the next decade

Last Saturday afternoon a 23-year-old Italian called Enzo Bonito won a car race at the Foro Sol in Mexico City, and when he did it, motorsport shifted, just a little bit, towards a strange new future. Bonito was competing in the Race of Champions (RoC), racing head-to-head in a heat against Lucas di Grassi, a 34-year-old who won the Formula E championship just a couple of seasons back. And then, just to prove it wasn’t a fluke, Bonito did it again the next day. This time he beat the 2012 Indycar champion, Ryan Hunter-Reay. The thing is, Bonito is a sim racer. He learned everything he knows from playing computer games.

“It wasn’t much of a surprise for me at all, if I’m honest,” says Ben Payne, who is the director of esports at McLaren. “But I know it raises eyebrows for a lot of other people.” McLaren are investing a lot of time, effort and money in esports. Bonito is part of their team, along with Rudy van Buren, who won three races at last year’s RoC, in Riyadh. Van Buren was working as a kitchen salesman when he won McLaren’s World’s Fastest Gamer competition, which earned him a year-long job as their simulator driver. Later this year, Payne says, Van Buren will probably make the switch from being a virtual racing driver to a real racing driver.

Related: Simulators, e-gamers and robot-cars: the bold new horizons of motor sport | Giles Richards

Related: Hashtag United, Wimbly Womblys and the virtual gamers striking it rich

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Will Mattia Binotto reinvigorate unruly Ferrari’s F1 fortunes? | Giles Richards

Ferrari’s new team principal has just five weeks before testing in Barcelona but his appointment is perhaps the best they have made in recent years

Precious little time remains for the new Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto to grasp the reins of his singularly demanding prancing horse. Having been chosen to replace Maurizio Arrivabene on Monday, it is just five weeks before Formula One hits the ground running at the first test in Barcelona.

Nor is that his only concern, he takes on the most high-profile management role in the sport, under intense scrutiny and demanding the greatest results. A task compounded by inheriting a Scuderia that has been unruly, skittish and left once more licking its wounds after defeat last season. Yet Ferrari’s decision to go with Binotto was positive and bold, perhaps it is the best they have made in recent years.

Related: Ferrari replace team principal Maurizio Arrivabene after poor season

Related: Michael Schumacher turns 50, FA Cup third-round shocks and sneaky drinks | Classic YouTube

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Ferrari replace team principal Maurizio Arrivabene after poor season

• Mattia Binotto takes the reins with immediate effect
• Chief technical officer Binotto has been at Ferrari since 1995

The Ferrari Formula One team have replaced their team principal, Maurizio Arrivabene, with Mattia Binotto, their chief technical officer. The team had earlier denied there was any change of leadership expected but after failing to mount a season-long challenge to Mercedes in 2018 Arrivabene has been dispensed with after four years in charge – and only two months before the new F1 season begins.

Arrivabene has most recently overseen two years when the Scuderia were found wanting against Mercedes. Last year was a particular disappointment: despite having the quicker car for considerable periods, a series of driver errors by Sebastian Vettel were compounded by team mistakes that saw their challenge falter and Lewis Hamilton taking the title with two races remaining.

Related: Niki Lauda admitted to hospital with flu five months after lung transplant

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