George Floyd death: Lewis Hamilton comments backed by Mercedes

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says he fully supports Lewis Hamilton speaking out against racism and has described the six-time world champion as an “ambassador of this sport”.

Hamilton has posted messages on social media in recent days decrying the situation in the United States after George Floyd died on May 25 after a white police officer held him down by pressing a knee into his neck.

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The incident has sparked large protests across the United States.

Hamilton said he felt “completely overcome with rage” and felt “so much anger, sadness and disbelief in what my eyes have seen”.

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Wolff, Hamilton’s boss at Mercedes, has backed the six-time F1 champion’s comments.

“We know that Lewis is always a strong supporter of any minorities,” said Wolff. “To be honest, I have learned a lot from him as well.

“He has asked me the question once ‘have you ever had the active thought that you are white?’ And I said ‘no, actually I have never thought about it’ and he said ‘well, you know, I need to think about it every day because I am being made aware that I am [black]’.

“Therefore, it’s very difficult for us to comprehend how difficult it is and therefore I am happy and supportive that he has come out vocal. He is one of the ambassadors of this sport and I think it’s good.”

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Hamilton had called on the F1 community to speak out and end what he felt was “silence” on the matter. A number of his fellow drivers and teams, including Mercedes, have since posted on social media, while the sport itself has also delivered a message of solidarity.

Asked what he felt F1 could do to help make a change and improve diversity, Wolff replied: “I was lucky enough that I was raised in a household with different nationalities. That I lived with a Jewish family for a long time when my family faced tough times and I saw what discrimination looked like as a child already.

“All of us have the power to make a change and sometimes it needs events, like the ones that happened a few days ago in the US, to trigger a massive wave of support for any minority.

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Formula 1 teams can use reserves if driver tests positive at 2020 race

Formula 1 teams have been urged to make use of their reserves should any of their lead drivers test positive for COVID-19 once the delayed 2020 season starts, with Chase Carey reaffirming that races will not be cancelled in that circumstance.

Carey, F1’s chairman and chief executive, was speaking after the sport published an eight-race initial calendar with the season starting in Austria on July 5.

  • Hamilton ‘overcome with rage’ as protests continue

The original March 15 opener in Australia was cancelled after a McLaren team member returned a positive test for the new coronavirus before the weekend had started.

But, confirming what FIA president Jean Todt told Sky Sports last month, Carey said that would not happen this time around.

“An individual having been found with a positive infection will not lead to a cancellation of a race,” Carey said in an interview on the official F1 website.

“We encourage teams to have procedures in place so if an individual has to be put in quarantine, we have the ability to quarantine them at a hotel and to replace that individual.

“A team not being able to race wouldn’t cancel the race… we will have a procedure in place that finding infection will not lead to a cancellation. If a driver has an infection, (the teams have) reserve drivers available.”

All 10 F1 teams have two full-time drivers, and a number of test or reserve drivers should they need them.

The last driver to fill in for a team during a season was Sky F1’s Paul Di Resta, who replaced the sick Felipe Massa at the 2016 Hungarian GP for Williams.

F1’s safety plans

Formula 1 plans to race without spectators, at least initially, and teams will fly in on charters and be isolated from the local population.

Carey pointed to “a rigorous set of guidelines” of some 80-90 pages detailing the processes for travel, hotels, meals, track behaviour and testing.

Teams will operate in ‘bubbles’ with social distancing in non-critical areas such as the paddock.

F1 expects some 1,200 essential personnel with the 10 teams limited to a maximum 80 people each compared to the more usual 130.

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Lewis Hamilton ‘overcome with rage’ at George Floyd death

Lewis Hamilton says he is “overcome with rage” following the death of George Floyd in America, and has urged people to speak up on behalf of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Floyd, an unarmed black man, died on May 25 after white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes as Floyd repeatedly told him “I can’t breathe”.

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His death has sparked mass protests across the United States.

Six-time Formula 1 world champion Hamilton was posting as part of #BlackoutTuesday, a huge social media protest that is taking place around the world.

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This past week has been so dark. I have failed to keep hold of my emotions. I have felt so much anger, sadness and disbelief in what my eyes have seen. I am completely overcome with rage at the sight of such blatant disregard for the lives of our people. The injustice that we are seeing our brothers and sisters face all over the world time and time again is disgusting, and MUST stop. So many people seem surprised, but to us unfortunately, it is not surprising. Those of us who are black, brown or in between, see it everyday and should not have to feel as though we were born guilty, don’t belong, or fear for our lives based on the colour of our skin. Will Smith said it best, racism is not getting worse, it’s being filmed. Only now that the world is so well equipped with cameras has this issue been able to come to light in such a big way. It is only when there are riots and screams for justice that the powers that be cave in and do something, but by then it is far too late and not enough has been done. It took hundreds of thousands of peoples complaints and buildings to burn before officials reacted and decided to arrest Derek Chauvin for murder, and that is sad. Unfortunately, America is not the only place where racism lives and we continue to fail as humans when we cannot stand up for what is right. Please do not sit in silence, no matter the colour of your skin. Black Lives Matter. #blackouttuesday ✊🏽

A post shared by Lewis Hamilton (@lewishamilton) on

This past week has been so dark. I have failed to keep hold of my emotions. I have felt so much anger, sadness and disbelief in what my eyes have seen. I am completely overcome with rage at the sight of such blatant disregard for the lives of our people. The injustice that we are seeing our brothers and sisters face all over the world time and time again is disgusting, and MUST stop. So many people seem surprised, but to us unfortunately, it is not surprising. Those of us who are black, brown or in between, see it everyday and should not have to feel as though we were born guilty, don’t belong, or fear for our lives based on the colour of our skin. Will Smith said it best, racism is not getting worse, it’s being filmed. Only now that the world is so well equipped with cameras has this issue been able to come to light in such a big way. It is only when there are riots and screams for justice that the powers that be cave in and do something, but by then it is far too late and not enough has been done. It took hundreds of thousands of peoples complaints and buildings to burn before officials reacted and decided to arrest Derek Chauvin for murder, and that is sad. Unfortunately, America is not the only place where racism lives and we continue to fail as humans when we cannot stand up for what is right. Please do not sit in silence, no matter the colour of your skin. Black Lives Matter. #blackouttuesday ✊🏽

A post shared by Lewis Hamilton (@lewishamilton) on

“This past week has been so dark,” Hamilton wrote. “I have failed to keep hold of my emotions. I have felt so much anger, sadness and disbelief in what my eyes have seen.

“I am completely overcome with rage at the sight of such blatant disregard for the lives of our people. The injustice that we are seeing our brothers and sisters face all over the world time and time again is disgusting, and MUST stop.

“So many people seem surprised, but to us unfortunately, it is not surprising. Those of us who are black, brown or in between, see it every day and should not have to feel as though we were born guilty, don’t belong, or fear for our lives based on the colour of our skin.

“Will Smith said it best, racism is not getting worse, it’s being filmed. Only now that the world is so well equipped with cameras has this issue been able to come to light in such a big way.

“It is only when there are riots and screams for justice that the powers that be cave in and do something, but by then it is far too late and not enough has been done. It took hundreds of thousands of peoples complaints and buildings to burn before officials reacted and decided to arrest Derek Chauvin for murder, and that is sad.

“Unfortunately, America is not the only place where racism lives and we continue to fail as humans when we cannot stand up for what is right. Please do not sit in silence, no matter the colour of your skin. Black Lives Matter.”

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Formula 1 season to start with eight races in Europe

The 2020 Formula 1 season will start in Austria on 5 July, the first of a run of eight races in Europe.

An F1 statement said the championship would begin across three consecutive weekends – two in Austria on 5 and 12 July and a third in Hungary.

There will then be a two-week break before two consecutive races in Britain and events in Spain, Belgium and Italy.

All will be run behind closed doors with participants following guidelines to minimise the spread of Covid-19.

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The British Grands Prix at Silverstone will be held 2 and 9 August, followed immediately by the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona on 16 August.

The Belgian and Italian Grands Prix will complete the European part of the season on their original dates of 30 August and 6 September.

Plans for the remainder of the season were not announced, because of the uncertainty of the coronavirus situation in the various countries that would have made up the original schedule.

However, F1 said it had “an expectation of having a total of 15-18 races before we complete our season in December”.

It is understood that F1 is highly confident of finishing the championship with races in Bahrain on 6 December and Abu Dhabi on 13 December.

Before that, the low incidence of coronavirus in China, Vietnam and Japan makes races in those countries a strong probability in October.

The Russian Grand Prix, which is pencilled in for after the European events along with the race in Azerbaijan, and those in the US, Mexico and Brazil are more uncertain because of the high rates of infection in those countries.

F1 2020 opening calendar

3-5 July – Austrian Grand Prix (Red Bull Ring)

10-12 July – Steiermark Grand Prix (Red Bull Ring)

17-19 July – Hungarian Grand Prix (Hungaroring)

31 July-2 August – British Grand Prix (Silverstone)

7-9 August – 70th Anniversary Grand Prix (Silverstone)

14-16 August – Spanish Grand Prix

28-30 August – Belgian Grand Prix

4-6 September – Italian Grand Prix

Reverse grid proposal

F1 bosses have also proposed that some races run to a new format, with the grid for the main grand prix on Sunday decided by a shorter race on Saturday.

But this plan looks unlikely to happen because of opposition from Mercedes – any change to the rules after the start of a year in which a championship takes place requires the unanimous approval of teams.

McLaren boss Zak Brown told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It would certainly add some jeopardy and some excitement to the sport so I personally would be a fan of experimenting because we might find we go, you know what, this is actually a pretty good idea, let’s pull this forward into future use.”

But Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff has told other senior figures at meetings to discuss the idea that he has two major objections the plan: it will not succeed in improving the racing; and F1 is not broken so does not require gimmicks to ‘fix’ it.

The plan would be to try the sprint races at events where there are races on consecutive weekends, such as in Austria and Britain, to avoid the risk of the second one falling into the same pattern as the first.

Mercedes’ objections are based on their belief that a reverse-grid race would simply lead to the cars from the top three teams running together as they carved through the field before becoming stuck in so-called ‘DRS trains’.

This is where a series of cars of similar performance run in close proximity but are unable to pass because all have the benefit of the DRS overtaking aid so it is negated.

They also believe it tips the result of the championship too far towards luck because the penalties of being involved in any incident in the ‘sprint’ race are magnified by also impacting on the driver’s chances in the main grand prix.

And they point to the fact that many of the races last year were exciting – especially those at the Red Bull Ring and Silverstone, for which the new format is being proposed.

Wolff has underlined to fellow bosses that he will not support the idea.

Brown said: “There are a variety of things we could try this year. You kind of have licence to do it differently because obviously going back to the same track twice in my memory has never happened in a season and if we end up doing this two times, mixing it up is a good idea.

“A lot of other forms of motorsport do have some form of reverse grid – it may be new to F1 but it’s not new to motorsport. And the other forms of motorsport that do it, it works quite well.”

He added that he “understood” Mercedes’ objections, saying: “They probably have the most to lose, if you like. It is pretty clear they still have the best car on the grid and so will probably be on pole position more often than not. So I understand from their point of view they are probably risking that pole position.”

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Dutch GP’s Formula 1 return moved back to 2021 season

The return of the Dutch Grand Prix will now have to wait until next year after organisers confirmed the postponed event will not be rescheduled when the 2020 season begins.

The race at a revamped Zandvoort track had been due to take place on May 3 but was called off due to the coronavirus pandemic, one of 10 grands prix to have been postponed or cancelled.

Organisers confirmed on Thursday morning that it was “no longer possible to hold a race with fans present this year”.

“We were completely ready for this first race and we still are,” said Jan Lammers, the race’s sports director and former F1 driver.

“An unbelievable achievement has been made thanks to all the fans, the companies and the governments involved. We and Formula 1 have investigated the potential to hold a rescheduled race this year without spectators, but we would like to celebrate this moment, the return of Formula 1 in Zandvoort, together with our racing fans in the Netherlands.

“We ask everyone to be patient. I had to look forward to it for 35 years, so I can wait another year.”

More to follow…

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Belgian GP 1995 Watchalong: Michael Schumacher vs Damon Hill at wet Spa

https://youtube.com/watch?v=2VRq9BZwAV8%3Ffeature%3Doembed

Don’t miss the latest Sky F1 Watchalong on Wednesday evening as we transport you back to the midst of one the fiercest rivalries in the sport’s history and a controversial, topsy-turvy battle around arguably its best circuit, in the toughest of wet conditions.

It’s the 1995 Belgian Grand Prix from Spa-Francorchamps where Michael Schumacher made history by winning from 16th on the grid, Damon Hill was angered by his great rival’s defensive driving, and Martin Brundle finished on the podium for outsiders Ligier.

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Hill, Brundle and Johnny Herbert – Schumacher’s Benetton team-mate that day who led the race’s early stages – are reunited to watch back the best (and, in some of their cases, worst) moments from an unforgettable afternoon, with fellow Sky F1 colleague David Croft.

Does Damon still hold the same opinion of Schumacher’s driving a quarter of a century on? How did Johnny go from the lead to seventh place? And just how difficult was it to drive the undulating and fast 4.4-mile circuit in the wet?

Watch along with the Sky F1 team on Sky F1, YouTube, Facebook, and on this page from 7.30pm

The background to a tense race day

Schumacher, F1’s defending champion, held a reduced 11-point lead over big rival Hill going into the race, the 11th round of the 16-race season.

Hill had halved his title deficit at the previous race in Hungary when the Williams driver’s third win of the year had coincided with a rare race retirement for Schumacher and Benetton.

But the Englishman, already enduring a turbulent year on the track, still had it all on to overcome Schumacher and exact revenge on losing out on the title at the last race in the controversial finish to 1994.

But the cards seemed to be falling in Hill’s favour at Spa, as although he qualified only eighth in wet conditions of qualifying, he was still eight places ahead of Schumacher – whose Saturday never got going after a crash in second practice, which was followed by technical problems with his car.

Schumacher therefore started 16th – he had never previously qualified outside the top 10 in F1, while no one had ever won at Spa from lower than 12th on the grid.

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Formula 1: Deal reached to hold British Grand Prix but quarantine questions remain

Formula 1 and Silverstone have agreed a deal for two grands prix to be held at the British track this season.

Owners the British Racing Drivers’ Club and F1 had been far apart in their assessments of the fee for the track to host the behind-closed-doors events.

But a compromise agreement has now been reached after negotiations this week.

However, a new threat to the races has emerged in the UK government’s plans to impose a two-week quarantine for all international arrivals.

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Silverstone managing director Stuart Pringle told BBC Sport: “I am delighted to confirm that Silverstone and Formula 1 have reached an agreement in principle to host two races behind closed doors this summer.

“However, these races will be subject to government approval, as our priority is the safety of all involved and strict compliance with Covid-19 regulations.

“I would like to thank all our fans who have been so supportive throughout this and to assure them we are determined to do all we can to help Formula 1 put on a show this summer.”

An F1 spokesman said: “We are continuing to have conversations with Silverstone and other promoters regarding a revised 2020 calendar.”

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Quarantine rules complicate matters

F1 is trying to secure an exemption for its staff from a new rule that international travellers must go into a 14-day self-isolation period upon returning to the UK.

The government has not defined when that will come into force, saying only that it will be “soon”, but if it is imposed without exemptions it threatens the return of all elite international sport this summer.

The issue for F1 is that seven of the 10 teams have bases in the UK. And beyond the problems of staff travelling internationally from race to race, the cars have to return to their factories periodically in between races, especially if they are involved in accidents.

To work around a two-week enforced quarantine period would mean that any races at Silverstone would have to take place with that period on either side.

That is problematic for F1 as the sport seeks to achieve its aim to hold a World Championship with between 15 and 18 races, starting with two races on consecutive weekends in Austria on 5 and 12 July.

Under current plans, the races at the Red Bull Ring would be followed by two events at Silverstone, if F1 can find a way around the quarantine restrictions.

Earlier this week, the chances of British races had receded when it emerged that Silverstone had been asking for £15m to host the two events – the same amount as it would have paid for its fee to host the race under normal conditions.

F1 had waived the fee because it was asking Silverstone to host races without fans, and had offered to ensure that the track was not out of pocket.

A number of British-based teams had been in touch with F1 to express their concerns about developments, feeling that Silverstone was being unreasonable.

But the financial impediments to the races taking place have now been removed.

Belgium approves race plan

Meanwhile, the Belgian government has given the go-ahead for its grand prix to be held behind closed doors at Spa-Francorchamps on its original date of 30 August.

A deal has not yet been struck with F1, but Spa general manager Vanessa Maes told Belgian media she expected this to happen in the coming days.

Belgium is one of the countries at which F1 hopes to hold the second tranche of European races, after Austria and the UK.

Among the other events in the mix are the tracks originally intended to hold races this year in Spain, Hungary, France and Italy.

Hockenheim in Germany, which was not on the original schedule, is on standby in case there is a vacant slot that other tracks cannot fill.

Cost cap talks ongoing

F1’s governing body, the FIA, has delayed a vote on proposals to reduce the cost cap being imposed next year until next week.

Teams had been due to meet on Friday and vote on a proposal to lower the level of $175m (£137.9m) enshrined in the rules to $145m, and then lowering again to $140m in 2022 and $135m for the period 2023 to 2025.

Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto, who had been against lowering the cap below $150m, said on Thursday that the teams had all agreed on the $145m.

But the FIA has decided to wait until next week while finishing touches are made to the proposal, with the hope of a vote by teams early next week and formal approval by the FIA’s world motorsport council later in the week.

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Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari exit: Ted Kravitz analyses F1’s huge news

We now know that Sebastian Vettel will leave Ferrari at the end of this year – but why now and what might be next for the four-time world champion?

Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz has followed the German’s career closely since Vettel sensationally burst onto the Formula 1 scene in 2007, and here analyses some of the detail in Vettel’s statement in which he explained the reasons why a contract renewal with Ferrari will not be agreed.

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How did it all unravel for the Scuderia’s once-undisputed number one and how much will the likelihood of leaving Maranello without a fifth world title – and a long-coveted first in red – hurt Vettel?

What Vettel said: ‘My relationship with Scuderia Ferrari will finish at the end of 2020. In order to get the best possible results in this sport, it’s vital for all parties to work in perfect harmony. The team and I have realised that there is no longer a common desire to stay together beyond the end of this season.’

Ted Kravitz: To say that “it’s vital for all parties to work in perfect harmony” suggests that they have not been in perfect harmony. And that was clear for us all to see.

Towards the end of last season there was that clash with his team-mate Charles Leclerc on track in Brazil. A few months before that there was qualifying in Monza and controversy between them over the tow, while we saw other examples earlier in the year where there was tension.

When Leclerc stepped out of the role of being “a good kid” – a phrase, you might remember, that Seb used in winter testing last year to describe his new team-mate – and became a proper challenger to him, you sense he kind of felt that Leclerc had become the team’s number one.

It was coinciding with that win being taken away from Vettel in Canada. That was a proper junction for Sebastian.

Neither Ferrari driver had won a race in 2019 at that point – Leclerc being unfortunate not to do so in Bahrain – and so it was hugely frustrating for Vettel how Montreal played out with the time penalty from the stewards and a lost victory.

Seb’s head went down after Canada – with Formula 1 as much as with Ferrari.

Then when Leclerc went on his run of pole positions and then his wins in Spa and Monza during the summer, I think Vettel had realised he was number two in the team. It wasn’t the team he joined in as far as his it being his team to support him for the championship.

Obviously, nothing has happened this year in racing terms but, as Vettel said, there is “no longer a common desire to stay together”. Hence the split at the end of this year.

What Vettel said: ‘Financial matters have played no part in this joint decision. That’s not the way I think when it comes to making certain choices and it never will be. What’s been happening in these past few months has led many of us to reflect on what are our real priorities in life. One needs to use one’s imagination and to adopt a new approach to a situation that has changed. I myself will take the time I need to reflect on what really matters when it comes to my future.’

Ted: You can read that final part in two ways. You could read that as ‘I don’t want to do Formula 1 anymore and I’m going to cycle and walk the Swiss hills with my family’. But I don’t take it like that – although, of course, it’s possible he could retire.

Take the line: “One needs to use one’s imagination and to adopt a new approach to a situation that has changed.” So, let’s ‘imagine’ then what might happen in the future. I see that as a point to another team – and specifically to McLaren.

What other teams are available? Mercedes? Possibly. Red Bull? They’ve said before they’re not going to take him back. Renault?

But if you imagine about what could happen in the future then McLaren – with an organised team, a Mercedes power unit from 2021, and under the new 2022 F1 design rules – might be a top team.

So that’s what I take by that ‘imagination’ line.

From the (prancing) horse’s mouth.. pic.twitter.com/89MAozQMcA

Adopting “a new approach to a situation” could also be about building up a team. If his old approach was trying to win a world championship with a team that’s ready to win titles, a new approach would be to go to a midfield team and build them up to be challengers. So that points to McLaren for me as well!

The only question is whether they could afford him and you go to the line before about financial matters – “Financial matters have played no part in this joint decision. That’s not the way I think when it comes to making certain choices and it never will be.”

If he doesn’t want to make it about the money, it won’t be about the money for Sebastian. So, assuming McLaren wouldn’t be able to pay him anywhere near as much as he’s used to, if that’s fine with Seb then it shouldn’t stand in his way.

Would it be a good get for McLaren? Absolutely! If they lose Carlos Sainz, who looks to be in pole position for Vettel’s seat, that would be a great swap.

The other thing I wonder about is whether Sebastian has missed the discipline and more regimented, clinical approach of a British-based team. Ferrari are fantastic, their engineers are great and their technology is as good as anyone’s, but the character of a team is based in its culture and they have a vibrant, colourful, emotional, Italian culture.

We have seen many times how that has frustrated the Sebastian who loves his routine, the Sebastian who likes everything to be just so.

What Vettel said: ‘Scuderia Ferrari occupies a special place in Formula 1 and I hope it gets all the success it deserves. Finally, I want to thank the whole Ferrari family and above all its “tifosi” all around the world, for the support they have given me over the years. My immediate goal is to finish my long stint with Ferrari, in the hope of sharing some more beautiful moments together, to add to all those we have enjoyed so far.’

Ted: I’ve been a student of Sebastian Vettel ever since he came into Formula 1 because he’s a very engaging and interesting character, as well as a nice guy to know.

One thing I do know about him is he is one of the most stubborn people you’ll ever meet. If he decided to do something – i.e. win a championship with Ferrari – he was going to see it through. That’s why I think this will hurt the most.

The reason he even thought about continuing for as long as he did was that the overriding ambition was to win a world championship in the red of Ferrari. So, unless something unexpected happens this year when the season begins, I’m sure it’ll be a lifelong regret for him that he wasn’t able to do that.

It will also be embarrassing for him in a way to have to leave without having succeeded – having failed.

He’s had race wins along the way, 14 of them, and they’ve had a go at winning the championship. But faced with the steamroller of Mercedes it never really looked like they were going to overturn them over a full season.

In any other era, Vettel might have won with Ferrari, but he caught a team in transition without the consistency in leadership you need. He’s had two team bosses – Maurizio Arrivabene and Mattia Binotto – and there was a bit of a crisis after the death of chairman Sergio Marchionne in July 2018.

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Bristol Rovers winger fears 1,400 players will be left without clubs

‘It is a scary time… a lot could be lost to the game’: Bristol Rovers winger Alex Rodman fears up to 1,400 players face lengthy unemployment when their deals expire next month, with League One and Two seasons set to be scrapped

  • Around 1,400 players from the EFL will be out of contract at the end of June
  • Bristol Rovers’ Alex Rodman fears many of them will be left without clubs 
  • The winger says financial uncertainty will means clubs cannot offer new deals 
  • The League One and League Two seasons are set to be cancelled this week 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Bristol Rovers winger Alex Rodman believes up to 1,400 EFL players ‘could be lost to the game’ when their contracts expire at the end of June.

As Rovers’ PFA representative, the 33-year-old has been involved in a number of discussions over how to complete the League One season amid the coronavirus crisis.

It is expected that both the League One and League Two seasons will be cancelled this week, but Rodman believes a bigger issue will arise at the end of next month.

Bristol Rovers winger Alex Rodman fears up to 1,400 players could be without clubs come July

Around 1,400 Championship, League One and League Two players will be out of contract on June 30, with clubs currently unsure when football will resume or when fans will be permitted to attend games again.

Rodman fears that clubs will be unable to offer deals to free agents due to the financial uncertainty, potentially leaving vast numbers of players without a club and any income to support their families.

‘From June 30, I think there’s 1,400 players out of contract in the Championship, League One and League Two,’ he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

‘We look at the potential of having no fans until possibly Christmas, maybe even into 2021, and I think there’s a real threat that the new season will be delayed.

‘If that’s the case, with players running out of contract on June 30, I can’t see clubs offering new contracts in that period.

‘I don’t see how that works financially for players coming into the summer and clubs not knowing where their income is.

Wycombe Wanderers’ Adams Park is pictured locked up during the coronavirus crisis

‘Most clubs get a third of income from matchday revenue and if a club knows they aren’t getting fans through the door until potentially next year then I can’t see clubs offering contracts to players – it definitely won’t be the level of contracts they were offering before, and I don’t think they’ll be offering the same amount of contracts.

‘So it’s a very scary time for League One and League Two players.

‘They don’t have the buffer that some of the Premier League players do, financially, and they’re, as a lot of the players at Bristol Rovers have mentioned to me, probably caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place in a moral dilemma of whether to go back as you need to financially support your family and pay your mortgage, or do you stay at home to protect your family’s health and welfare?

‘It’s going to be a really tough position over the next few weeks and months, as everyone in the country is facing.

‘It’s certainly scary and I think the PFA have mentioned that 60 per cent more players have looked into educational support over the last two months, which sums up where everyone’s heads are at and how worried players are now.

EFL chairman Rick Parry is in discussions over how to resolve the season and contract issues

‘Players, especially at League One and Two level, do rely on a paycheck every month. 

‘They’re living paycheck to paycheck and couldn’t absorb missing one, two, three or four.

‘I don’t think that could happen so it is a scary time – 1,400 is a lot of players and, as everyone in the country is finding, times are incredibly tough at the moment and that’s no different for footballers, especially at the lower levels.

‘A lot could be lost to the game, which would be a massive shame.

‘So, for me, I think the conversation about League One and League Two needs to move away from the season finishing and how we can combat the issue of players being out of contract for that long and whether clubs can do something with players to work together to fight that.

‘It’s going to be the most worrying thing for me and it seems to be the most worrying thing for the players I’ve been speaking to as well.’




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Ligue 1 stars set to be a hot property in the Premier League

From the striker wanted by FIVE of England’s Big Six to the 21-year-old midfielder in Liverpool’s sights, French stars are set to be a hot property in the Premier League as Ligue 1 clubs look to claw back cash after season ends

  • The Ligue 1 season has been cancelled following a government announcement 
  • Unable to complete the season, clubs will miss out on revenue from TV rights 
  • It means teams may have to part with some of their top stars to boost income
  • The likes of Wissam Ben Yedder are already on the radar of Premier League clubs

After the shock revelation last week that the Ligue 1 season would not be restarting, clubs have been left to count the cost of the decision.

It is estimated that the French top flight will lose, in total, up to £175m as a result of the government’s decision to ban all sporting events until September. 

It means that owners and chairmen will have to find ways to plug the hole left by the loss of television revenue and matchday income, and with a summer transfer window on the horizon it seems likely that selling off prized assets may be one way to soften the blow.

With some of the country’s top talent already in the crosshairs of Premier League sides, now, more than ever, some of them will be readily available with sellers significantly hampered by the need to raise cash and quick.

Here, Sportsmail looks at the main targets who could be making their way to England in the midst of France folding its season.  

 Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco)

Despite only joining Monaco last summer, Wissam Ben Yedder looks almost certain to move again 12 months on, following an incredible season in Ligue 1.

Joint-top of the scoring charts with Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe, the 29-year-old has grabbed 18 goals for a side that has largely struggled despite the apparent talent at its disposal. 

And there is every chance that his next strike could come in England, with five of the top six linked with a move for the former Sevilla forward. 

Only Chelsea are not credited with an interest in him, while Real Madrid are also thought to be keeping tabs on his situation.  

Monaco forward Wissam Ben Yedder is reportedly wanted by five of the Big Six in England

 Moussa Dembele (Lyon) 

Continuously linked with a move to England’s top flight even before leaving Celtic for France in 2018, this summer could finally see the rumour become reality.

Manchester United have been scouting the 23-year-old ever since he made the move to the Groupama Stadium, and his 16 strikes this season in Ligue 1 will only have piqued their interest.

Chelsea have also been credited with a desire to bring the striker back across the channel, and while a price-tag of £83m has previously been mooted, that may well come down if Lyon need cash, and quick. 

Lyon striker has long been linked with a move to one of the top clubs in the Premier League

Habib Diallo (Metz)

Despite spending last season in Ligue 2, Habib Diallo has made the transition to a top-flight striker look seamless in France. 

The 24-year-old had been key in helping Metz keep their heads above water, grabbing 12 goals at a rate of just over one in every two matches.

That kind of form for a struggling side has caught the eye in England, with Chelsea linked with a £17m move for the Senegal international. 

He had in January stated his desire to remain at Metz until the end of the season, but now that has been accelerated he could be tempted to try his luck outside of France. 

Habib Diallo has impressed in this Ligue 1 campaign and has been heavily linked with Chelsea

Victor Osimhen (Lille)

One of the finds of the summer as director of football Luis Campos worked his magic once more for Lille, Victor Osimhen has been a revelation in Ligue 1.

The little-known forward was signed from Charleroi in the summer for around £11m and has fired in 13 goals for Les Douges. 

That track record, as well as some impressive moments in Europe, have caught the eye of Liverpool, who have reportedly opened talks with the Nigerian’s representatives.

Talk has been of a possible £65m swoop, but there is room to haggle given the Ligue 1 predicament.  

Victor Osimhen was a purchase devised by the Luis Campos and the Nigerian has shone at Lille

Ibrahim Sangare (Toulouse)

It has been a miserable season for Toulouse, who have been sat rock-bottom of the Ligue 1 table for the duration of it.

The premature end to the season is almost a relief, with their demotion to the second tier almost inevitable. 

There have been few bright points for the beleaguered club, but the form of midfielder Ibrahim Sangare at least gave them some lift during the campaign.

With revenue now lost, and relegation to Ligue 2 looming, it is a near certainty that Sangare will be sold to help boost the coffers. 

Still only 22, Sangare could be available for as little as £13m (€15m), and has previously been linked with a move to Everton. 

Ibrahim Sangare (left) has been the bright spark in an otherwise dismal season for Toulouse

Serhou Guirassy (Amiens) 

In a team destined for the drop, nine goals is not a bad return. 

Serhou Guirassy has done his level best to keep Amiens from falling through the trapdoor in France this season, but it doesn’t look to be enough after the decision to end the season was made.

The 23-year-old is already a reported target for West Ham, who are willing to pay up to £20m for him. 

Needing the cash should they be demoted, there are other suitors, too, with Tottenham scouts having previously watched the striker in action, as well as Leicester City. 

Amiens striker Serhou Guirassy (left) has already been linked with a move to West Ham United

Boubakary Soumare (Lille)

Having turned down the chance to move to the Premier League in January, it appears that will almost certainly not be the case when clubs come calling for Boubakary Soumare this summer.

Newcastle United had a £35m bid accepted, only for the Lille midfielder to turn down the chance of the move and stay in France.

Now, with his price tag thought to be that little bit higher and the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool now understood to be sniffing around, it appears a case of not if but who the 21-year-old will join. 

Boubakary Soumare was the subject of a bid from Newcastle in January and is still a target

Bouna Sarr (Marseille)

Having spent his entire career in France, Bouna Sarr may finally be about to set his sights on pastures new.

The 28-year-old wing-back has spent his professional career at just two clubs – Metz and Marseille – swapping the north of France for the south back in 2014.

Now appears an ideal time to broaden his horizons, with clubs in England, Germany and Spain all considering a move.

Everton and West Ham have both scouted the defender, according to L’Equipe, and the Premier League could prove an enticing option in the latter stages of his career.

Bouna Sarr has spent his whole career in France but could now be set for pastures new

Ibrahima Diallo (Brest)

While a tad cliched, it is not without merit that Ibrahima Diallo has been likened to Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante. 

His impressive displays over the last two seasons with Brest has seen several Premier League clubs linked with his signature, including Everton.

There is interest from both in France and elsewhere around Europe – with Sevilla heavily linked – but with a supposed valuation of around just £13m, English clubs would once again be well-placed for any bidding war involving the 21-year-old.  

Brest star Ibrahima Diallo has been likened to Chelsea’s defensive midfielder N’Golo Kante

Abdoulaye Toure (Nantes) 

Central midfielder Andoulaye Toure only took the captain’s armband at Nantes this season when Valentin Rongier left for Marseille, and he could soon be following his former team-mate out the door. 

West Ham and Burnley have both been credited with an interest in the 26-year-old, who has done little to play down his ambitions of moving to a bigger club.

Speaking to Onze Mondial earlier this year, he said: ‘I’ve made it clear that I wanted to leave, to discover something new. 

‘I’m an ambitious person, so you have to go to bigger clubs and gain a little bit more perspective.’

Abdoulaye Toure has impressed as captain at Nantes, turning heads across the channel 




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