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F1 2021: Lewis Hamilton Mercedes contract news, Toto Wolff

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has lifted the lid on Lewis Hamilton’s ongoing contract saga saying “curveballs” have been thrown at the lawyers.

Hamilton is currently unemployed and out of contract after allowing his Merc deal wind down before it expired on December 31st, The Sun reports.

The 36-year-old had maintained that his intention was always to re-sign for the team, expected to be a two-year contract worth up to $70million (£40m) a year.

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However, there is a growing feeling that those negotiations had hit a snag and now Wolff has revealed he “argues’”with the world champion over Zoom, while his demands have held up the lawyers.

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Daniel Ricciardo Azerbaijan GP result, Mansour Ojjeh dies, Lewis Hamilton reacts

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A devastated Daniel Ricciardo has paid tribute to Mansour Ojjeh after the McLaren and motorsport icon died aged 68 on the weekend.

Ojjeh was McLaren’s major shareholder, having bought into the team in 1984 with former partner Ron Dennis, and helped establish it as one of the major forces in F1 during a near 40-year association.

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Ahead of last weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, McLaren announced Ojjeh died peacefully in Geneva, surrounded by his family. Team boss Zak Brown said the billionaire’s death “had devastated everyone” at the team.

“Mansour has been etched into the heart and soul of this team for nearly 40 years and was intrinsic to its success,” Brown said.

“He was a true racer in every sense. Ultra-competitive, determined, passionate and, above all, perhaps his defining characteristic: sporting.

“No matter the intensity of the battle, Mansour always put sport first.”

Ricciardo was gutted by Ojjeh’s passing, taking to Instagram to say how much he’ll miss him.

“We lost a great man over the weekend. Many of us knew Mansour and shared some great moments with him,” Ricciardo wrote. “Honestly can’t say enough good things. Gonna miss you mate.”

After the race in Baku, which saw Ricciardo finish ninth, the Aussie added: “I also just want to pay tribute to Mansour and send my condolences to (wife) Kathy and his entire family. He made a massive contribution to both McLaren and the entire sport, and he will be greatly missed.”

With Mansour on board McLaren won seven of its eight constructors’ world titles since 1984 and 10 of their 12 drivers’ crowns.

Lewis Hamilton, who won the first of his seven world titles at McLaren, said before the start of Sunday’s grand prix in Baku: “I carry a heavy heart into the race after the loss of a close friend, Mansour Ojjeh.

“He had the biggest heart and always carried the biggest smile. I am so grateful to have known such a man. This man loved unconditionally. Rest in peace brother, love you always.”

Ojjeh (L) was synonymous with McLaren. (Photo by MAURICIO LIMA / AFP)Source: AFP
Ricciardo paid tribute to a great McLaren man (far right).Source: Instagram

Qualifying blunder costs Ricciardo badly

A crash in qualifying saw Ricciardo start the Azerbaijan GP 13th on the grid but thanks to late fireworks that saw Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen crash out, he was able to climb up into the points. The West Australian was still well behind McLaren teammate Lando Norris though as the young Brit crossed the line in fifth.

“There were moments today in the race where I was thinking, ‘I hope it becomes a bit more exciting’ and suddenly it did,” Ricciardo said.

“We had some positive moments, but also a few difficult periods. I flat-spotted the hard (tyres) a bit, so that became tricky for the last few laps before the red flag, but not too bad beforehand.

“The last start, I felt like I got a good launch, and had a good run on the outside but there wasn’t really much room with a couple of cars on the inside. It just all bottlenecked into Turn Two and I felt a hit from behind. I couldn’t really do much, but we’ll keep working on our plan and keep moving forward.”

Ricciardo was realistic about his chances in the race after putting himself on the back foot with that crash in qualifying.

“It was Baku really, what can you say?” Ricciardo added. “It’s a weekend where you always have highs and lows and you know, Saturday (qualifying) was frustrating … you never feel good crashing the car, gives the mechanics extra work and I don’t like doing that because I’m a nice guy.

“I wasn’t mad because I was trying to find the limit so I’m glad that I explored but obviously this track bites.

“We’ll be able to explore a bit more in the triple header and a bit more open, bit more forgiving. We got double points, we survived a crazy race.”

Daniel Ricciardo couldn’t make many inroads at Baku (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images).Source: Getty Images

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Bathurst 1000, Greg Murphy, Richie Stanaway, wildcard

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Greg Murphy doesn’t just go down in the history books for being a four-time Bathurst 1000 winner.

He’s also remembered for one of Australian sport’s great face-offs.

A year after claiming his first – and last – Bathurst 1000, Murphy and Marcos Ambrose, were involved in a heated spat, where fingers flew and choice words were said after making contact on lap 145 and blocking the entire road.

It left Mark Skaife cruise to victory, as Ambrose trudged off and walked back to the pits while Murphy picked up the scraps.

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Ford driver Marcos Ambrose (L) and Holden driver Greg Murphy confrontation after being involved in a major pile up incident in 2005.Source: News Limited

Now, what started as a “tongue-in-cheek” comment has seen two legends of Supercars racing return for October’s Bathurst 1000, after Murphy and compatriot Richie Stanaway were granted wildcards and will come out of retirement.

Sixteen years after the infamous moment, the anger has simmered and Murphy is just happy to be going round Mount Panorama one more time.

“All of a sudden here’s a group of people who are wanting and willing to make this happen,” Murphy said.

“I’m very fortunate and lucky to be presented with the opportunity to go back and race at a place that means so much to me.”

Supercars legend Greg Murphy (left) is making a sensational comeback to the sport alongside Richie Stanaway.Source: Supplied

Murphy and Stanaway will run Murphy’s iconic #51, a number he carried full time from 2001 – 2012.

“The number 51 has become a signature that has been associated with me and my career for quite some time so it will be cool to bring it back,” Murphy said.

“Peter (Adderton) played a significant role in how I came to be a full-time professional race car driver and now we are back here doing this together.

“Barry (Ryan) and I have worked together several times and we have a great respect for each other. It’s going to be fun to go back and reminisce on some of the stories and memories that we’ve had in the past and I’m looking forward to the journey.”

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Greg Murphy (R) and Rick Kelly (L) celebrate their win in the V8 Supercar Series at Mount Panorama, Bathurst. Pic Brett Costello.Source: News Corp Australia

Murphy and Boost Mobile owner Peter Adderton’s long-standing relationship stems back to 1994 in both the Australian Manufacturer’s and Australian Drivers Championships, before he became Boost Mobile’s earliest motorsport ambassador.

Stanaway also raced under the Boost Mobile banner during stints at Tickford Racing in 2018, and Garry Rogers Motorsport in 2019.

The global telecommunications brand also supported Stanaway during his 2017 endurance campaign, where he drove to victory at the Sandown 500 with Cameron Waters.

“At first I didn’t think Pete was being serious, like a lot of people but then he reached out to me,” Stanaway said.

“I’ve had a really good relationship with Boost, it’s been great to have a sponsor that’s supported me and believed in me.

“I’m really grateful for their support and I’m glad we’re going ahead with it because I’m really looking forward to it.”

“Murph has always been a big inspiration of mine and driving with Murph is one of the big reasons why I want to come back.

“It’s cool to have someone of his calibre back in the car at the biggest race of the year.

“Erebus are a team I’ve always admired, and they’ve done a great job over the past few years so I’m really looking forward to seeing what it’s all like from the inside.”

Richie Stanaway was on his way to the F1 earlier in his career. Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.Source: Supplied

The announcement comes after months of campaigning from fans after Adderton floated the idea on social media back in April.

“Originally the idea was a bit tongue-in-cheek, but the fan reaction has been incredible, so I wanted to make this team happen for them (the fans),” Adderton said.

“I got on the phone to Greg and Richie and although they initially weren’t interested, it didn’t take too long for them to see what we were trying to do and for them to change their minds.

“We have an incredible relationship with the team at Erebus and Barry (Ryan) understands better than most that the entertainment and fans are key to Supercars’ success.”

Erebus will field three cars for the first time since the team’s inception in 2013, though it’s not the first time the idea has been floated.

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Nikita Mazepin military service, Haas, Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Nikita Mazepin can’t catch a break.

The 22-year-old has struggled in his debut season with Haas, but achieved his personal best of the season with a 14th-place finish at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Mazepin finishing above Lewis Hamilton just about summed up the wild race in Baku, as Max Verstappen and Lance Stroll crashed out in controversial fashion while four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel appeared on the podium for the second time in 26 races.

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Both Mazepin and fellow Haas driver Mick Schumacher have failed to pick up any points this season, and Mazepin’s father revealed that his son might not end up gaining any points at all due to a Russian law.

All Russian men between the ages of 18 and 27 must complete one year of military service or suffer a two-year spell in jail.

Mazepin has struggled in his first season as an F1 driver.Source: Getty Images

Speaking at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Dmitry Mazepin opened up about his son’s impending predicament.

“Nikita has 23 races, and they tell him that he needs to join the army,” said the elder Mazepin.

“They told him he had to be present at the training camp regularly. There would be no exceptions.

“He has a race every two weeks. How does he do it? Who do I ask this question to?

“And I’m not talking about Nikita Mazepin alone but about everyone: athletes and professionals in the same situation.

“The issue of education and sports is relevant.”

Mazepin hasn’t made any friends so far this F1 season.Source: Getty Images

Dmitry Mazepin just so happens to be the majority shareholder of a company by the name of Uralkali — the official title partner of the Haas F1 team.

Nikita Mazepin firmly planted himself in the bad books of F1 fans before the 2021 season even began when a video surfaced of the Russian making an unsolicited attempt to touch a woman’s breast.

After an internal investigation, Haas announced in December Mazepin would still drive for the team.

On the track, he’s had his fair share of rookie moments.

In his very first F1 race at the Bahrain Grand Prix in March, Mazepin earned his nickname of “Mazespin” after he crashed on turn three of the opening lap.

The Russian will look to earn his first F1 points at the upcoming French Grand Prix, which takes place on June 20 at Circuit Paul Ricard.

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