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ROYAL SPORTS

    ROYAL SPORTS

    LEWIS HAMILTON: FERRARI ARE FAVORITES

    ​Ferrari are favourites to win the Formula 1 world title as the new season starts in Australia this weekend, says three-time champion Lewis Hamilton.

    Hamilton’s Mercedes team have dominated for the past three seasons but pre-season testing suggested Ferrari have bounced back from a winless 2016.
    “I see Ferrari being quickest,” he said. “They are definitely favourites.”


    But Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel said Mercedes were the team to beat, adding: “We are doing our best to catch up.”

    The new cars that will race at Melbourne’s Albert Park and for the rest of the season will be considerably quicker than last year’s after major rule changes aimed at making them faster and more demanding.

    But Vettel said that made no difference to Mercedes’ position after three dominant seasons, since the introduction of turbo-hybrid engines in 2014, in which Hamilton won two titles and Nico Rosberg the other.

    Vettel said: “Mercedes have been very strong and even if you change the rules if a team is strong they will build a strong car.

    “Looking at the performance of the cars, it was expected to be a big step up. And that’s what we all said as and when we got out for the first time.

    “I think they will be the fastest cars we have ever driven. it is nice to have that. Competitiveness? We are all here to find out.”

    ‘I have never seen the fans so excited’
    The season starts without the reigning champion on the track for the first time since 1994, when Alain Prost retired after winning his fourth title. Following Rosberg’s retirement, Finn Valtteri Bottas will partner Hamilton.

    Hamilton, 32, said: “It doesn’t make any difference to me. Every year is a brand new challenge. You just want to beat whoever it is you’re up against and the bigger the fight the more satisfying it is.

    “I have never seen the fans as excited [as they are] about this year, not knowing where the cars and teams are. More of these changes would be welcome. Maybe they should shorten the time between rule changes.”

    Hamilton said he would relish a fight for the title with Vettel, who won four consecutive championships with Red Bull from 2010-13.

    And the Briton added he would like to see old rival Fernando Alonso back in a competitive car, which seems a forlorn hope given a dire pre-season for the 35-year-old Spaniard’s McLaren-Honda team.

    “I have not had a lot of battles with Sebastian on track, and I would love that and the fans would too,” Hamilton said. “And for him [Alonso] to be up there, too, before his time is up. I would love that. We haven’t seen the best of Fernando.”
    Hamilton added he was also wary of the threat from Red Bull drivers Daniel Ricciardo, 27, and 19-year-old Max Verstappen.
    “I am very keen to see what Red Bull bring because they were quite far behind in testing compared to Ferrari,” Hamilton said.
    “I didn’t see many upgrades and I am excited to see what they bring here.”

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    MLS SIDE CHICAGO FIRE SIGNS GERMAN LEGEND

    Former Germany captain Bastian Schweinsteiger has signed for Major League Soccer side the Chicago Fire, the Chicago Tribune reported on Monday. Schweinsteiger, a key member of Germany’s 2014 World Cup-winning team,…

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    DUMINY WITHDRAWS FROM IPL

    South Africa’s JP Duminy has withdrawn from the upcoming edition of the lucrative Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament, the allrounder and his franchise said on Monday. The 32-year-old, who plays for…

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    SPAIN CALLS COSTA AND PEDRO

    Diego Costa and Pedro Rodriguez were rewarded for Chelsea’s march towards the Premier League title on Friday with a recall to Julien Lopetegui’s Spain squad for a World Cup qualifier against…

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    UNITED FINED BY THE FA

    Manchester United have been fined £20 000 for failing to control their players in Monday’s FA Cup quarterfinal defeat at Chelsea, the governing body said on Friday. Referee Michael Oliver was…

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    MALI SUSPENDED BY FIFA

    The Malian Football Association (Femafoot) has been handed a suspension from international football by Fifa “with immediate effect”. Fifa explained that the suspension of the West African nation’s FA is due…

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    FERNANDO TORRES BACK TO TRAINING

    Atletico Madrid striker Fernando Torres returned to training on Monday after recovering from a sickening head clash, suggesting he could play in Wednesday’s Champions League tie against Bayer Leverkusen. Torres lost…

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    MANCHESTER UNITED CHARGED BY FA 

    ​Manchester United were charged on Tuesday by the Football Association (FA) with failing to control their players during the explosive FA Cup quarterfinal with Chelsea, English football’s ruling body said. United’s Spanish…

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    DEPORTIVO STUN BARCELONA 

    Barcelona boss Luis Enrique accepted his side had struggled to shrug off the euphoria of a remarkable Champions League comeback against Paris Saint-Germain as the Spanish champions slumped to a shock…

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    BOURNEMOUTH FINED BY THE FA

    Bournemouth have been fined £35,000 after admitting a breach of Football Association anti-doping rules. The Premier League side were charged after failing to ensure their club whereabouts information was accurate on three…

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    SPURS DEFENDER BEN DAVIES EXTENDS DEAL

    Tottenham defender Ben Davies has signed a new contract that will keep him at the club until 2021. The 23-year-old joined Spurs from Swansea in 2014 and has made 68 appearances in all…

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    TYRONE MINGS STUNNED WITH A FIVE MATCH BAN

    Bournemouth defender Tyrone Mings will serve a five-match ban for violent conduct after a Football Association panel ruled he deliberately stood on the head of Manchester United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The 23-year-old…

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    MAN CITY SHARE SPOILS WITH STOKE CITY

    Manchester City’s title hopes suffered a potentially-decisive blow after they were held by a resolute Stoke side and missed the chance to cut Chelsea’s lead at the top of the table.…

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