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F1 news, Williams Racing team tributes, George Russell

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Frank Williams, whose team dominated Formula One in the 1980s and 1990s, has died at the age of 79, the team announced on Monday morning (AEDT).

The Williams team won the F1 drivers’ title seven times and the constructors’ championship on nine occasions under Williams’ stewardship, although the most recent triumphs came in 1997.

The Englishman stepped down from the board of Williams Formula One in 2012 and his family ended 43 years of involvement in the team last year, following its sale to Dorilton Capital.

Williams had used a wheelchair since being injured in a car crash in France in 1986.

“The Williams Racing team is truly saddened by the passing of our founder Sir Frank Williams,” the team said in a statement.

Williams racing driver Alain Prost and Williams Formula One racing team owner Frank Williams.Source: News Corp Australia

“Sir Frank was a legend and icon of our sport. His passing marks the end of an era for our team and for the sport of Formula 1. He was one of a kind and a true pioneer.

“Despite considerable adversity in his life, he led our team to 16 world championships, making us one of the most successful teams in the history of the sport.”

Damon Hill, who won the 1996 world title with Williams, said Frank Williams would have an important place in F1 history.

“The only person I could compare him to is Enzo Ferrari. He loved Formula One and he loved racing. Anyone who runs a team would like to aspire to his achievements and to his record,” Hill told Sky Sports News.

Jean Todt, who was principal of the Ferrari team that grappled with Williams in the 1990s, tweeted that Frank Williams “leaves a lasting impression on the history of @F1”.

“He was a pioneer, an exceptional personality and an exemplary man,” said Todt, the former FIA president.

Formula 1 also issued a brief statement shared on their social media channels.

“We are filled with the most immense and deep sadness at the passing of Sir Frank Williams,” the statement read.

“His was a life driven by passion for motorsport; his legacy is immeasurable, and will be forever part of F1.

Frank Williams, the man who changed Formula 1. Photo by Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP.Source: AFP

“To know him was an inspiration and privilege. He will be deeply, deeply missed.”

Current Williams driver George Russell paid his own tribute. “Today, we say goodbye to the man who defined our team,” he said on Twitter. “Sir Frank was such a genuinely wonderful human being and I’ll always remember the laughs we shared.

“He was more than a boss, he was a mentor and a friend to everybody who joined the Williams Racing family and so many others.” Formula One president Stefano Domenicali said Formula One had lost a “much-loved and respected member of the F1 family”.

“He was a true giant of our sport that overcame the most difficult of challenges in life and battled every day to win on and off the track,” he said.

In 1977, Frank Williams joined forces with innovative motor racing engineer Patrick Head to launch the Williams Formula One team.

Clay Regazzoni registered the team’s first grand prix win at Silverstone in 1979 and a year later Australian Alan Jones won the team’s first drivers’ title.

Keke Rosberg took the 1982 title, with five more captured in a golden period between 1987 and 1997, all after Williams’ ill-fated 1986 dash to catch a flight in France and the car crash that left him paralysed.

Williams steered Nelson Piquet to the following season’s title, with Nigel Mansell and Alain Prost following up in 1992 and 1993.

Ayrton Senna, who had won three world championships with McLaren, joined for the 1994 season, only to lose his life in a high-speed crash at Imola.

The last Williams driver to win a world championship was Canada’s Jacques Villeneuve in 1997.

The team’s nine constructors’ crowns place Williams second only to Ferrari in the all-time Formula One list. But the outfit has under-performed in recent years, consistently running at the back of the pack.

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Daniel Ricciardo features in song on Triple J’s Hottest 100, reaction, Gang of Youths

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Daniel Ricciardo is a man of culture.

The Australian Formula One driver has many interests outside of motorsport, including wine and fashion. And now he has officially hit the big time as a (budding) musician, making one of the most sought-after lists in Aussie pop culture.

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As hipsters across Australia gathered around their portable speakers on Saturday for Triple J’s Hottest 100, they might have missed Ricciardo’s cameo in one of the songs.

In a strange twist, the 32-year-old made his Hottest 100 debut, having played “percussion” on Gang of Youths’ song The Man Himself.

The track, from Gang of Youths’ third studio album Angel in Realtime, came in at number 57 on the list, and features Ricciardo playing some very basic drum beats in the background.

He even features on the song’s credits, although it must be said the band’s drummer Donnie Borzestowski did the heavy lifting as the proper percussionist.

The Australian band released The Man Himself in October last year and shared a clip on social media of Ricciardo playing the drums in their studio.

On the band’s Instagram post listing Ricciardo in the credits, the McLaren driver commented: “This makes me happy”.

Ricciardo is an avid listener of music and often shared videos of himself singing along to tunes while driving (in normal life, not during races). He is also an ambassador for the headphones brand Beats by Dre.

Daniel Ricciardo on the drums for Gang of Youths.Source: Instagram

The West Australian also isn’t afraid to try his hand at strumming a few tunes on the acoustic guitar.

As for the rest of the Hottest 100, The Wiggles took out top spot for their cover of Tame Impala’s song Elepant.

Olivia Rodrigo, Lizzo and Cardi B also featured alongside some Triple J favourites including Gang of Youths, Tame Impala and ARIA winner Genesis Owusu.

Hopefully Ricciardo can take the momentum from featuring in the Hottest 100 to help him finish higher on another list of sorts — the F1 grid in the 2022 season.

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Australian F1 Grand Prix organisers won’t allow Covid vaccine exemptions, Albert Park circuit Melbourne, vaccine rules for F1 drivers

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Organisers of the Australian Formula One Grand Prix have confirmed there will be a “zero tolerance” approach on vaccine exemptions, making it mandatory for all participants to be vaccinated.

Australian F1 Grand Prix chief executive Andrew Westacott said the conditions for the event were clear — all drivers, pit crew, staff and spectators have to be fully vaccinated to be involved in the race.

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“The rules are simple to get into the country and the rules are simple to operate in Formula One,” he said.

“To come into the event you’ll be 100 per cent vaccinated and there won’t be an exemption sought for anyone from anyone.”

The Grand Prix’s hard line policy means there will be no repeat of the Novak Djokovic exemption saga that overshadowed the lead-up to the Australian Open.

“Our arrangements have been in place well before the recent goings-on at the Australian Open,” Westacott said.

“These rules are understood by Formula One, they’re understood by the FIA, they’re going to be written into the sporting regulations and I’m very confident that (it) is just going to be a rite of passage to come into the country.

“There’s zero tolerance. Whether you’re Lewis Hamilton or Valentino Rossi in MotoGP, if you test positive, you don’t race that weekend.”

Every F1 driver including Daniel Ricciardo will be fully vaccinated for the Australian Grand Prix. (Photo by Antonin Vincent / POOL / AFP)Source: AFP

The entire F1 grid is believed to be fully vaccinated, and several leading drivers including Daniel Ricciardo have voiced their support for vaccines.

On top of the drivers, fans and all staff in the paddock will have to be vaccinated to attend the Grand Prix in Melbourne on April 10.

Aussie motorsport fans have been starved of a local F1 race. This year’s edition will be the first Australian Grand Prix since 2019 after the 2020 and 2021 races were cancelled due to the pandemic.

But the organisers have declared it will be a case of third time lucky and there is no chance of it being cancelled this year.

“I’ll go on record and say zero chance of cancellation,” Westacott said.

The Albert Park circuit in Melbourne has undergone a revamp, with the track resurfaced for the first time in 25 years.

The freshen-up is expected to cut lap times by five seconds, while the widening of several turns is expected to create more overtaking opportunities.

“The widening of five other turns, particularly the increase of speed at Turn 6 where they’re going to go from about 90 km/h to 150 km/h, that really does set it up for speeds in excess of 330 k /h around Lakeside (Drive), pulling four and a half Gs,” Westacott said.

The Australian Grand Prix is the third race of the F1 season and will run from April 8-10.

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McLaren boss Zak Brown ‘wouldn’t be shocked’ if Lewis Hamilton quits before 2022 season

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McLaren CEO Zak Brown says he “wouldn’t be shocked” if Lewis Hamilton chose to quit Formula One before the start of the 2022 season.

The seven-time world champion has kept his cards close to his chest since he missed out on last year’s title to Max Verstappen, who overtook him on the last lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in controversial circumstances.

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Speculation has been rife about Hamilton’s future after he was beaten to the world championship for the first time since 2016.

The 36-year-old and Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff snubbed the end-of-season F1 gala, even though they were required to attend.

Hamilton, who is contracted with Mercedes to the end of 2023, is yet to publicly confirm whether he will race on this year, but Wolff is hopeful his charge will return to the grid.

Brown, who is the boss of Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris, said he wouldn’t be surprised if Hamilton called it quits and walked away from F1.

“I wouldn’t be shocked if he stopped, so I don’t think anyone should take for granted he’s coming back,” he said.

“My personal opinion is he’s going to (continue racing), but I don’t think we should discount or not recognise his frustration and his anger.

Lewis Hamilton’s F1 future is up in the air. (Photo by Kamran Jebreili – Pool/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

“Maybe he hasn’t made a decision and maybe what he’s doing is taking time to make that decision to make sure, because once that decision is made, that decision is made.

“So, I don’t think we should rule it out or make light of it. I just personally think he still has a burning desire to race and that will ultimately drive his decision.”

Ultimately Brown believes Hamilton will continue to race in F1, driven by the desire to win a record-breaking eighth world championship.

“I think he’ll be back,” he said.

“He’s a racing driver. I think he’s at the top of his game.

“I’m sure he’s very angry, but I think race car drivers want to race and I think he’s a fighter, and he’ll want to come back and try to win an eighth championship.

“I don’t think he’s ready to retire; this is my own personal opinion, I’ve not talked to him, because once you hang it up, you hang it up.

“I guess you could come back as some have done, but I don’t think he’s ready to hang it up and I don’t think he’s going to let an incident put him into retirement.”

Hamilton lost the 2021 world championship to Max Verstappen in controversial circumstances. (Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP)Source: AFP

Brown’s comments come after former F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone predicted Hamilton will retire before the 2022 season, which begins with the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 20.

The Brit reportedly also reportedly ignored messages from newly-elected FIA president Mahamaaed Ben Sulayem as time ticks on towards the start of the 2022 season.

Hamilton is expected to attend the virtual launch of Mercedes’ 2022 car on February 18.

Meanwhile, the fallout from the dramatic season finale in Abu Dhabi has continued.

The FIA, F1’s governing body, will reveal the results of their investigation into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on March 18, just two days before the season gets underway in Bahrain.

There have been calls for the FIA to sack Australian race director Michael Masi, after he came under fire for his use of the safety car in the dying stages of the race.

Many F1 fans criticised Masi for his decision to move only the lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to set up a final lap shootout between the two rivals.

Verstappen, on fresh tyres, overtook Hamilton to win the world title.

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