Who replaces Lewis, George Russell, Stoffel Vandoorne, Nico Hulkenberg, Sakhir Grand Prix

Mercedes have enjoyed an incredibly successful 2020 season with Lewis Hamilton wrapping up the drivers’ championships and the team securing the constructors title.

In the final weeks of the season however a spanner has been thrown into the works after Hamilton tested positive for COVID-19.

The bombshell news broke on Tuesday evening after Hamilton woke up feeling under the weather following the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Hamilton’s positive test will now see him miss the Sakhir Grand Prix and now raises the biggest question of all: Who will drive his Mercedes this weekend?

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Mercedes’ designated reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne was in Valencia doing a Formula E test, with the Belgian set to fly to Bahrain shortly after.

The announcement of just who will step in for the now isolating Hamilton won’t be announced by Mercedes until Thursday, just under 48 hours away from the first practice session of the weekend.

Vandoorne was the first name floated as Hamilton’s replacement with the former McLaren driver the easiest inclusion.

“I don’t know what is going to happen [but] I know there is a chance for me to drive,” Vandoorne, 28, said.

“But let’s wait and see. I’m travelling tomorrow and I’ll find out. I got a first message this morning around seven.

“The team told me that Lewis tested positive and they were going to announce an hour later. But afterwards it’s just been kind of waiting.”

Shortly after the Hamilton news came to light however, a wave of support from Formula 1 fans began to swell for Williams driver George Russell.

Russell, 22, has yet to land a point in Formula 1 with the British youngster finishing a painstaking 11th during the Tuscany Grand Prix.

The Williams driver is a part of the Mercedes young driver program and fans want more than anything to see him secure his first points.

A report from Autosport indicates Russell has emerged as the frontrunner to be behind the wheel of the Mercedes despite his contract with Williams.

“Mercedes having a good relationship with the Williams team, it is possible that a separate deal could be arranged to loan him out. Sources suggest that discussions about a potential deal are ongoing,” the story says.

If Russell were to shift to Mercedes for this weekend, the door would be open for Vandoorne to drive for Williams. However the team is likely to promote reserve driver Jack Aitken to make his Formula 1 debut.

Both Russell and Vandoorne have both had seat fittings with the Silver Arrows, a factor that is likely to rule out Nico Hulkenberg.

Hulkenberg stepped in to drive for Racing Point after Sergio Perez tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the season.

But the German star was quick to shut down the possibility of getting behind the wheel of the Mercedes with a not-so-subtle Instagram post.

Former Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button jokingly threw his hat into the ring after the Hamilton news by telling Mercedes he was available this weekend.

Button tweeted to the team with an emoji of a mobile phone and a man putting his hands up in a shrug.

He followed it up with: “I promise I won’t pee in Lewis Hamilton’s seat”. A throwback to a threat Button made to Fernando Alonso when he replaced him for the Monaco Grand Prix in 2017.

Mercedes got in on the joke with a hilarious reply, showing an image of a iPhone and several missed calls from Button with the caption: “Toto’s phone right now”.

Former Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg weighed in on just who should replace Hamilton with the 2016 world champion throwing his support behind Russell.

“Petition for Mercedes to race @GeorgeRussell63 this weekend! Would be great! Most importantly though: All the best @LewisHamilton for a fast health recovery,” he wrote.

We’ll know soon enough just who will get to drive the fastest car on the grid this weekend around the Bahrain circuit for the Sakhir Grand Prix.

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Eifel Grand Prix, News, updates, grid, start time, Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg

The Eifel Grand Prix could be the perfect setting for Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton to equal Michael Schumacher’s F1 win record.

It could be the perfect setting to equal the record in Germany with the Eifel Grand Prix at Nurburgring, as Hamilton starts on the front row of the grid, just behind teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Lights out at 11.10pm AEDT.

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Row 1: Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes – Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

Row 2: Max Verstappen, Red Bull – Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

Row 3: Alexander Albon, Red Bull – Daniel Ricciardo, Renault

Row 4: Esteban Ocon, Renault – Lando Norris, McLaren

Row 5: Sergio Perez, Racing Point – Carlos Sainz, McLaren

Row 6: Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari – Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri

Row 7: Daniil Kvyat, AlphaTauri – Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo

Row 8: Kevin Magnussen, Haas – Romain Grosjean, Haas

Row 9: George Russell, Williams – Nicholas Latifi, Williams

Row 10: Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo – Nico Hulkenberg, Racing Point

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Coffee to cockpit! Nico Hulkenberg lifts lid on ‘crazy’ call to drive for Racing Point at Eifel Grand Prix

Nico Hulkenberg has revealed how he went from enjoying a coffee in Cologne on Saturday morning to driving for Racing Point at the Eifel Grand Prix at the Nurburgring.

Racing Point team principal Otmar Szafnauer made a last-minute plea to the 33-year-old to replace Lance Stroll, who was struck down by illness and missed the first practice session.

Hulkenberg had stood in for Stroll’s team-mate Sergio Perez on two occasions in August after the Mexican tested positive for Covid-19, and was familiar with the car and circuit.

He had been due to drive to the Nurburgring as part of his duties with broadcaster RTL, but Hulkenberg spoke of his shock at getting the call so close to qualifying.

“It was even wilder and crazier than last time,” he told Sky Sports F1 of his latest comeback.

Hulkenberg had just four laps to qualify for Sunday’s race  Photo: POOL/Getty Images

“I was sat with a friend having a coffee at 11am when I see that Otmar rings me and he says ‘Hulkenberg hurry, we need you here’.

“I stepped in the car and came here and the rest is history.”

The circuit is about an hour from Cologne by road and Hulkenberg also needed to take and pass a Covid test once he had parked up his Porsche.

With no practice at a circuit he last raced on in 2013, and with the Racing Point upgraded since his last outing, qualifying was always going to be hard as he finished at the back of the grid in 20th.

“The car has moved on, there’s a couple of technical bits that are very different and give the driver a very different sensation so I had to adjust around that a bit, just find my feet again,” Hulkenberg added.

“In four laps that’s not so easy. But all in all, even though we’re last, I’m quite pleased with the laps we produced just now.”

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Man Utd transfer round-up: No David Brooks bid, Nico Gaitan’s failed move

As the 2020/21 Premier League season draws ever closer, Manchester United are still yet to make a senior addition to their squad.

A number of fringe players have moved on, with Alexis Sanchez the highest profile departure, but we continue to await a major breakthrough in United’s pursuit of Jadon Sancho, a transfer story which is in danger of going right to the wire.

It’s not the first time United have embarked on a lengthy pursuit of a player, and we’ve got an update for you as a previous long-term target breaks his silence on a failed move several years ago.

There’s also the latest on another young British player on United’s radar this summer, plus the news that one of the several academy men released over the last couple of months has found a new club.

David Brooks is set to leave Bournemouth

Bournemouth yet to receive a bid for Brooks

David Brooks’ name has been mentioned in connection with Manchester United this summer, as well as a number of other Premier League clubs, following the Cherries’ relegation from the top flight.

However, with less than three weeks until the start of the new season, Jason Tindall’s side are yet to receive an official bid for the Welsh international.

“We as a football club have got a value of what we believe for our players and if that value is met then players have got the opportunity to then discuss with whoever they need to discuss with, and then make the decision they feel is right for them,” Tindall told Sky Sports.

However, the same outlet reports no bid has been lodged, despite reported interest from United, Leicester City, Everton, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.

Brooks missed most of last season through injury, but returned to feature in the last nine games of the season and scored once against Manchester City.

The 23-year-old has been named in Ryan Giggs’ Wales squad for their upcoming fixtures, as well as United duo Daniel James and Dylan Levitt.

Nicolas Gaitan has played for a host of clubs in recent years

Argentina playmaker explains collapse of long-rumoured United move

There was a period a few years ago when Nico Gaitan seemed to be linked with Manchester United on a near-weekly basis, but a move for the midfielder was never completed.

The Argentina international, then at Benfica, is now back in Portugal with Braga after stints in Spain, China, France and the United States, where he played alongside former United midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger for Chicago Fire.

Gaitan has given an interview to Portuguese publication Record, translated by Sport Witness, in which he explains work permit issues played a part in an Old Trafford switch never materialising.

“I had no European citizenship and wasn’t a national team player,” he said.

“I used to be called up, but I didn’t play and it was necessary to fulfil a number of games. It didn’t meet these requirements and it wasn’t possible. But if it didn’t happen, it was for some reason.”

Gaitan has 16 caps for Argentina, but only one since leaving Benfica in 2016.

Young goalkeeper signs for Blackpool after United release

Goalkeeper Alex Fojticek was unable to break through at Old Trafford, leaving Manchester United when his contract expired over the summer.

However, he has now found a new club, signing a one-year deal with Blackpool with an option to extend it by a further 12 months,

The 20-year-old joined United as a teenager from FC Tatran Presov in his home country of Slovakia, and made three Premier League 2 appearances last season.

“Alex has impressed us since joining on trial a few weeks back,” Blackpool goalkeeping coach Steve Banks said.

“His commanding presence in the box is a real asset and he further strengthens the goalkeeping position at the Club.”

The Tangerines, who are managed by former Liverpool Under-23 boss Neil Critchley, will be hoping to improve on last season’s mid-table finish in League One.

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Nico Hulkenberg stuns with P3 ahead of Verstappen and Ricciardo in 70th Anniversary Grand Prix qualifying

Mercedes has once again locked out the front row of the grid for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone but a thrilling qualifying has thrown up a few surprises.

Renault‘s Daniel Ricciardo will start from the third row of the grid after qualifying fifth as the Aussie’s new found speed shone through.

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After fourth in last week‘s British Grand Prix, Ricciardo impressed in practice on Friday, finishing third fastest in the second practice session.

He was again impressive in Saturday‘s qualifying to claim fifth with Valtteri Bottas claiming pole ahead of Lewis Hamilton on the front row of the grid.

But on the final lap, Ricciardo, who had been sitting in third more than a second behind the Mercedes drivers, he was overtaken by two ex-teammates, with Nico Hulkenberg stunning the grid, claiming third, while Red Bull‘s Max Verstappen claimed fourth.

Ricciardo was two-tenths of a second behind Hulkenberg.

“That‘s a cracking time from Ricciardo,” Sky Sports’ Martin Brundle said after the lap that set his qualifying time as he missed out on Renault’s first top three qualifying result since Japan in 2010.

The Aussie F1 veteran was thrilled with the performance and said that P5 was about right.

“I think it was nice, everyone was a bit surprised with P3 yesterday, and in a way there was probably a bit of pressure for the team to deliver it again,” Ricciardo admitted. ”I don‘t think anyone expected P3 but they expected somewhere around where we are now so to do it, P5, I’m stoked.”

As for the difference between last season and this, Ricciardo couldn‘t put his finger on the change.

“The rear of the car is definitely working better, I don‘t know what part of the car it is which is the real reason but we’re able to get on the power earlier, you can feel the downforce is there and it’s working,” he said.

Ricciardo also shared a nice moment with Hulkenberg, waiting to congratulate his former Renault teammate alongside Verstappen in a great show of sportsmanship.

Ricciardo also spoke about being pipped by his ex-teammates.

“To be a tenth off Max, we‘re obviously very happy with that,” he said. “There’s a lot of progress there, I think we were eight-tenths off him last week. But then the Hulk’s come in and I think he’s adjusted his neck this week and he’s feeling free and ready to go.

“But honestly, hats off to him. We all know that car‘s working but I don’t just want to say it’s the car. He’s obviously done a really good job. And to be sitting on the couch so long, it’s not easy. He’s a veteran, it’s not easy, I don’t care what anyone says so hats off to him, he’s done a really good job.”

It‘s Hulkenberg’s second best qualifying result after finishing second in the 2016 Austrian Grand Prix.

Crossing the line, Hulkenberg said “yeeha, get in there Racing Point, nice one”.

Hulkenberg was stunned by the result after a whirlwind week.

He was only brought in after Sergio Perez was ruled out of a second straight weekend after testing positive for COVID-19.

But last week, Hulkenberg wasn‘t even able to start the Grand Prix after his car wouldn’t even turn on.

“A crazy seven or eight days,” Hulkenberg told Sky Sports.

“Obviously last week, with the big high to come back and the low on Sunday (not starting the race), it was very extreme. This weekend I felt much better in the car, much more prepared. Qualy was still tricky and in Q2 I made life hard for myself a bit and I was scared I‘d damaged the car.

“Q3 was just head down, full beans, whatever I had – and a bit surprised to stand here. But obviously a big smile on my face and a lot of respect for the race tomorrow.

“It‘s definitely going to hurt tomorrow not having last week’s experience and not having gone through the motions there with the start and everything. But we’ll do what we can, I’ll try to learn fast, and keep the car where it deserves to be.”

It comes after Hulkenberg finished Q2 in second after a blistering final lap helped him jump from the relegation zone.

But there were a couple of negative shocks as well with Sebastian Vettel‘s woes continuing with his worst qualifying of the season.

The four-time world champion was knocked out in Q2 and will start from 12th on the grid.

“Oh dear oh dear oh dear, Sebastian – what‘s happening?” Martin Brundle asked.

Vettel‘s teammate Charles Leclerc was honest and said “we have been struggling more than last week”, sensationally admitting that ”maybe we shouldn’t expect a podium for us tomorrow”.

Ricciardo‘s current teammate Esteban Ocon also didn’t benefit from his increased speed, out in Q2 in 11th while McLaren had a poor day with Carlos Sainz in 13th, while Lando Norris could only manage 10th.


Row 1: Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

Row 2: Nico Hulkenberg (Racing Point) – Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

Row 3: Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) – Lance Stroll (Racing Point)

Row 4: Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) – Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

Row 5: Alexander Albon (Red Bull) – Lando Norris (McLaren)

Row 6: Esteban Ocon (Renault) – Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)

Row 7: Carlos Sainz (McLaren) – Romain Grosjean (Haas)

Row 8: George Russell (Williams) – Daniil Kvyat (AlphaTauri)

Row 9: Kevin Magnussen (Haas) – Nicholas Latifi (Williams)

Row 10: Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) – Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)

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