Lewis Hamilton takes pole position for Bahrain Grand Prix

Bottas thought he was closer to Hamilton’s time.

“I was quite surprised when I saw the gap,” the Finnish driver said. “I definitely have the speed but I haven’t quite got it all together yet.”

Verstappen, however, is resigned to being in Mercedes’ shadow.

“You always want more but it’s important to stay realistic. I’m just pushing as hard as I can with the material I have,” Verstappen said. “We’ll see what we can do tomorrow, it’s quite aggressive on the tires here.”

Verstappen’s teammate Alexander Albon was in fourth place and a full second behind Hamilton, who will bid for his record-extending 95th F1 win on Sunday.

Daniel Ricciardo will start from sixth on the grid for Renault.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc took the first of his seven pole positions last season in Bahrain, but this year the team has struggled badly and he starts from 12th place behind teammate Sebastian Vettel.

Former champion Kimi Raikkonen was among the five drivers eliminated from Q1 while Carlos Sainz jnr went out of Q2 after his rear tires blocked and his McLaren stalled on the track.

Qualifying was halted for a few minutes while his car was removed.

Earlier, Verstappen beat Hamilton’s leading time to go fastest in the final practice. The Dutchman was 0.26 ahead of Hamilton and 0.37 ahead of Bottas.

Hamilton was quickest in both practice runs on Friday and looked set to make it a hat-trick when he overtook Verstappen and then Bottas with about 10 minutes left in the hour-long session. But Verstappen came back out and returned to the top of the leaderboard.

Albon’s car was fitted with a new chassis after he crashed heavily following a mistake on the last turn in the second practice.

Hamilton and other drivers have been complaining about the new Pirelli tires, which they are testing ahead of 2021, saying they are too heavy and Vettel calling them even worse than before.

“[It is] three kilos heavier and it’s about one second slower per lap,” Hamilton said. “If that’s the best they can do [it’s] better we stick with this [current] tire.”


The four-time F1 champion Vettel agreed with Hamilton to keep the 2020 tire for next year, rather than switch to the unpopular 2021 model.

“It will make the problems we struggle with now worse,” he said.

Because of the lack of grip on the new range of tires, Verstappen joked that the championship could become “a drift challenge” if manufacturer Pirelli uses the 2021 tires as planned.

“I hope they listen a bit to the drivers,” Verstappen said. “I hope we will not use them.”

This is the 15th of 17 races in the coronavirus-shortened season, with another race to follow in Bahrain next Sunday before the campaign concludes in Abu Dhabi.


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Emergency exit – Britain’s vaccine roll-out takes shape | Britain

LOTS OF SPACE and vinyl flooring—that is what local directors of public health want. “The last time you went into an NHS appointment…the floor would have been a certain type of splash-proof vinyl in case you bled all over it or threw up,” says one. It is the sort of floor a mass vaccination centre requires.

The search for suitable venues has just become more urgent. On November 23rd the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine team announced positive results (though there are some concerns about the data—see article). A cheap, transportable vaccine would be good news for the world. It would also be good news for Britain, and not just because it would be the product of a British university and an Anglo-Swedish firm.

The government has ordered 40m doses of vaccine from Pfizer and 5m from Moderna, the two other firms to have announced phase-three-trial results. Both require two doses per person. It has ordered 100m from AstraZeneca, which may need just one-and-a-half. If all are approved, the AstraZeneca vaccine would thus accelerate the country’s journey to herd immunity.

That approval is in the hands of Britain’s medicines regulator, the MHRA, which is reviewing data from all three firms. AstraZeneca had planned to have 30m doses ready by September; it missed that target, but is expected to have tens of millions ready when approval is granted. One insider says the hope is to deliver 5m jabs a week by mid-January.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which advises the government, has drawn up a prioritisation list, with care-home residents and workers at the top, followed by the over-80s and health-care workers. The MHRA will probably at first offer an emergency-use authorisation, which may restrict vaccination to the most at-risk until more evidence is in.

The British state’s lacklustre response to the covid-19 pandemic provides plenty of reason for trepidation about the roll-out. But unlike the testing programme or track-and-trace, the National Health Service will be running things, removing the need to set up a leadership structure and local organisation from scratch.

It is not an entirely new exercise for the health service. Britain dishes out nearly 15m flu jabs a year. The need to store the Pfizer vaccine at -70°C limits the role of general practitioners (GPs) who deliver much of the flu campaign, since few surgeries have sufficiently icy freezers. But the AstraZeneca vaccine can be kept at 8°C.

Around half of the vaccines will be delivered in the community, the other half in mass vaccination centres. They will spring up in places like hospitals, sports halls and universities. Paramedics, physiotherapists and student medics will be called upon to staff them. So, too, may vets, dentists and trained volunteers, for whom the government has tweaked human medicines regulation to allow them to administer jabs.

All of this is a big ask for the NHS at a time of year when it is normally most stretched. This year’s expanded flu vaccine campaign suffered from distribution problems. GPs are in discussions with NHS leadership about what parts of their job can be put on hold to allow them to focus on vaccination. “We would want to protect patient-facing services,” says Steve Mowle of the Royal College of General Practitioners.

Perhaps the biggest challenge will be the IT system. It will need to contact people at the right time for their first and second jabs, and to integrate information with medical records. This is important, says Penny Ward of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine, a professional body, so that analysts can trawl the records for unidentified side effects. Not all are optimistic. A scientist advising the government says he cannot think of anything since the start of the pandemic “where we relied on digital support and it happened in a timely way”.

In a programme of this scale, things will almost certainly go wrong. But if enough goes right, there is a glittering prize on offer. By spring, vaccination and increased testing “should reduce the need for economic and social restrictions”, in the words of Boris Johnson. “We should be able to render obsolete the very notion of a covid-19 lockdown.”

Editor’s note: Some of our covid-19 coverage is free for readers of The Economist Today, our daily newsletter. For more stories and our pandemic tracker, see our hub

This article appeared in the Britain section of the print edition under the headline “Emergency exit”

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Confused Virat Kohli takes aim at ICC for points change

Kohli’s absence thereafter will make the task of retaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy more difficult for India and he did not hide his displeasure at the mid-season alteration to the WTC points system announced by the International Cricket Council a week ago. The change, which means teams are now rated on the percentage of points they had acquired from each series, led to India dropping behind Australia to second place and jeopardises their hopes of claiming a spot in the inaugural final at Lord’s next winter.

“It is definitely surprising because we were told points are the matter of contention for the top two teams qualifying in the World Test Championship and now suddenly it has become percentage out of nowhere,” Kohli said. “So it’s very confusing, very difficult to understand why.”

Virat Kohli has called for the ICC to answer more questions about the WTC.Credit:AP

“If these things were explained to us from day one then it would have been easier for us to understand the reasons why such a change has happened. But it has happened out of nowhere. I think further questions about this should be asked to the ICC and understand why this has been done and what are the reasons behind it.”

Kohli said he had also been left mystified about the absence of star teammate Sharma, who has not yet made the trip to Australia.


“Before the selection meeting, we got a mail that he is unavailable, that he has picked up an injury during the IPL. It said that the pros and cons of the injury were explained to him and he understood and he was unavailable for selection,” Kohli said.

“After that he played in the IPL and we all thought he was going to be on that flight to Australia, which he wasn’t, and we had no information whatsoever on the reason why he is not travelling with us. After that the only other information we have received officially on mail is he’s in the NCA [National Cricket Academy], he’s been assessed and he’ll be further assessed on 11 December.

“There has been no information, there has been lack of clarity. We have been playing the waiting game on this issue for a while now, which is not ideal at all. It’s been very confusing, there has been a lot of confusion.”

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The Black experience takes center stage at 2021 Grammy nominations

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With police brutality continuing to devastate Black families and the coronavirus ravishing Black America disproportionately, the world was driven to the significance of this year’s Juneteenth more than ever before.

And Beyoncé knew she wanted to release a song on that momentous day, so she dropped “Black Parade,” an anthemic jam where she proudly sings about her heritage, hometown, and returning to her African roots.

Months later, the song – and others focused on protesting, police brutality, and the overall Black experience – are taking center stage at the 2021 Grammy Awards.

Beyoncé’s “Black Parade” scored nominations for two of the top awards: song of the year and record of the year. The track will also compete for best RB song and best RB performance.

“There could have been a different approach as far as releasing the record and capitalizing off of timings of other things, but we really wanted to get it out during a time where we could all remember the feeling and the energy,” Derek Dixie, a longtime collaborator of Beyoncé’s who co-wrote the song with the pop star, said in an interview with The Associated Press.

“It’s not always about the money and about catching streaming numbers and things like that. Sometimes it’s just about what it is – which was making our people proud.”

“Black Parade” helped Beyoncé land nine nominations, making her the overall top Grammy contender. Mr. Dixie earned three Grammy nominations for co-writing and co-producing the song.

For song of the year, “Black Parade” will compete with H.E.R.’s “I Can’t Breathe,” the RB singer’s track about police brutality.

Lil Baby’s “The Bigger Picture,” a protest song he created in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, scored nominations for best rap song and best rap performance. Proceeds from the song will support the Black Lives Matter movement, Breonna Taylor’s attorney, The Bail Project, and the National Association of Black Journalists.

Anderson.Paak also released a song on Juneteenth – the holiday that commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free – and it’s competing for two awards. “Lockdown” is nominated for best rap performance and best music video.

Country singer Mickey Guyton wrote the track “Black Like Me” a year ago but released it this year because she felt it was extremely relevant. Now, it’s nominated for best country solo performance, giving the performer her first-ever Grammy nomination.

“It’s been so hard in the country music community, and trying to get country music to even support my music – and for me to get a Grammy [nomination], it just goes to show that writing your truth is just the way to go,” Ms. Guyton told the AP on Tuesday. “And not only writing your truth, but really bringing your brothers and sisters up with you.”

But Ms. Guyton admits that everyone’s response to her song wasn’t warm. It features the lyrics, “If you think we live in the land of the free/You should try to be Black like me.”

“I released it and I did get people that were very angry. There were even radio stations that people were like, ‘Get this [expletive] off of my radio station,’” she said. “I would get people writing me messages like, ‘Well, if you don’t like it here then leave.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, it’s just as much my country as it is yours.’”

Ms. Guyton added that some “radio stations were scared to play [‘Black Like Me’] because they were [angering] their listeners, because their listeners didn’t want to hear that.”

Apart from “Black Parade,” Beyoncé also earned nominations for her film honoring Black art and Black history, “Black Is King,” as well as her ode to dark- and brown-skinned women, “Brown Skin Girl.”

Mr. Dixie, who has worked as Beyoncé’s music director and has produced, engineered, and arranged songs for the singer, said he’s grateful he’s working with an artist who boldly speaks about Black pride in her music.

“It’s just good to see that she’s willing to put that type of energy out and not necessarily be thinking about: ‘What’s going to guarantee me a No. 1? What’s going to guarantee me this?’ It’s a part of our conversation, it’s a part of the process, but when it’s necessary to put that art out there, to put that energy out there, she’s usually … leading the pack in that regard,” Mr. Dixie said. “So I’m grateful to be associated with her on that path.”

Ms. Guyton added that it’s comforting to see some many Black musicians reflect the current times in their music, and she’s grateful to the Grammys for acknowledging those kinds of songs.

“It’s so important because so often Black people, and Black women especially, are getting overlooked. … And you’re constantly just trying to get people to remember that you’re there,” she said. “It feels like we’re seen, and I don’t think we’ve always felt seen.”

“I use this scenario of going into any grocery store – if you go to any grocery store … and you look for hair products for someone who is ethnic and … you see an entire aisle full of every and any hair product you can possibly think for someone that is not Black. But whenever it comes to finding hair products for a Black person, we’re designated a shelf. And today, it doesn’t feel like we’re designated a shelf.”

The 2021 Grammy Awards will air live on Jan. 31.

This story was reported by The Associated Press.

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No Wild Oats XI, no Comanche as race takes new shape due to COVID-19

“Having less boats certainly improves our odds,” Beck said. “But is a shame to not have people like Wild Oats in the race.

“They’re great people, with a great boat, and you get a lot of credibility if you actually beat them in a race.”

The Oatley family say they are “zero” chance to put in a late entry for Wild Oats XI, citing the impact of the pandemic on their employees as the reason for pulling out of the race.

Wild Oats XI was built in 2005 and has raced in each edition since.

“A gold medal is a gold medal and a Sydney to Hobart win is a Sydney to Hobart win,” Beck said, comparing his yacht to Bradbury’s famous Winter Olympic gold.

Eager to claim underdog status, Beck said Black Jack would be the boat to beat.

“It was always gonna be our best chance [to win this year] because we’ve been on a trajectory,” he said. “We were 24th three years ago, fourth and then second so we’re getting better all the time.

Last year’s line honours winner Comanche arrives in Hobart.Credit:Rolex

“But, I think if you were putting a bet on, I’d put a bet on them before us.”

For last year’s overall winner, Ichi Ban skipper Matt Allen, the race has hardly changed.

The majority of this year’s Tattersall Cup favourites have been unaffected by COVID-19, with 2018’s winner Alive looking to be Allen’s biggest competitor once again.


“They’ve been spending a lot of time getting their crew right and their gear right and they’ve probably closed in on us a bit in the sense that they’re kind of try and replicate us as much as they can,” he said. “There is some copying and pasting going on.”

Allen will be aiming for his third overall honours this year after wins in 2017 and 2019 and believes he would be able to create his own “little piece of history within the race” by taking out the honour in the COVID-19-affected race this year.

Only two other boats have managed to win the overall honours three times in the race’s history. The last back-to-back win was Freya, in 1963, 1964 and 1965.

“I don’t know whether anyone is ever gonna do a triple again but just to get back-to-back would be an incredible thing,” Allen said. “Obviously, it’s been a difficult winter break for everybody, people haven’t done as much sailing, as in previous years. There’s a lot of pressure on us.

“But it’s the dream that we all have.”

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Jamie Van Der Zalm takes home $10,000 shopping spree as winner of Terry’s Big Bearded Ball Drop | The Border Mail

news, local-news,

Fifteen hundred golf balls were dropped from the sky on Saturday for Terry’s Big Bearded Ball Drop. Despite coronavirus ruining a community event, where donors who had a ball in the drop could watch the helicopter drop them onto Benalla Friendlies Reserve, eager ticket holders watched via a Facebook livestream. Jamie Van Der Zalm, with ball number 1494, was the closest to the target and will receive a $10,000 shopping spree. For Terry Greaves, who was the driving force behind the fundraising effort, he was amazed they were able to beat their goal of $150,000. “It is really important for the cancer centre, and we have raised more than $170,000 so that will go into all their projects they have going,” he said. Everyone who made a $20 donation towards Terry’s cause or purchased multiple tickets was entered into the first ball drop electronic lottery with 1500 lucky donors randomly selected for the physical drop. IN OTHER NEWS: The money raised will go to the Albury Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre Trust Fund. “If out of all this I can get someone the same care as I am getting that is great,” Mr Greaves said. “I would just like to thank everyone who has helped us, all our bearded ambassadors and our committee.” Trust fund chair Michelle Hensel said without event’s like Terry’s the centre wouldn’t be one of the leading regional cancer services.


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‘He Can’t Hang On Forever’: New No 10 Advisor Takes Trump to Task Over Refusal to Concede Victory

As one the UK prime minister’s closest pro-Brexit strategists, Dominic Cummings, who served as chief adviser to Boris Johnson, was sacked hot on the heels of communications director Lee Cain’s resignation, the man set to fill his shoes is MP for Harborough in Leicestershire Neil O’Brien, who has been tasked with leading a new policy board in No 10.

UK Ministers have so far stopped short of publicly expressing their condemnation of President Donald Trump’s refusal to accept the outcome of the 2020 elections, which every major US media outlet has already projected as won by Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, writes The Times.

However, the outlet reports that as the Trump legal campaign has filed lawsuits in the wake of the current White House incumbent’s claims of widespread election fraud, the man appointed to take the place vacated by Boris Johnson’s first adviser Dominic Cummings is prepared to be more forthright.

“I was extremely glad that Biden won,” said Neil O’Brien, Downing Street’s new choice for adviser to the Prime Minister, adding, when asked if Trump should concede:

“Yes… he just can’t hang on for ever can he? Biden has won the election.”

One of the UK prime minister’s closest pro-Brexit strategists, Cummings, who served as chief adviser to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson from 24 July 2019 until 13 November 2020, was sacked hot on the heels of communications director Lee Cain’s resignation.

Donald Trump one famously referred to Boris Johnson as “Britain Trump”, as he congratulated the latter on winning the race to be the next UK prime minister in December 2019.

“We have a really good man. He’s going to be the prime minister of the U.K. now, Boris Johnson. He’s tough and he’s smart. They’re saying ‘Britain Trump.’ [sic] They call him ‘Britain Trump,’ and there’s people saying that’s a good thing,” Trump said at the time.

However, O’Brien disagrees with everything he believes the current POTUS represents.

“Where shall we start? The unbelievable misogyny and the ‘grab women by the pussy’ stuff, the distortion of the truth, the chipping away at the fabric of properly functioning liberal democracy, which has continued even after he’s lost the election, the fact that he ultimately has let down and disappointed the people who placed their hopes in him. I see the case for a real social conservatism but that is a fake version of it . . . I believe in things like the family, having a sense of national identity, controlling borders but it was a horrible, mutated version that has nothing to do with all those things,” says O’Brian.

On the other hand, according to the incoming No 10 adviser, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden represents the “renormalisation of politics and truth-based, reality-based conversation”.

Majority of US media outlets have already projected Joe Biden as the winner, even though the states are yet to certify results by 8 December, after which chosen electors meet on 14 December to formally cast votes.

Donald Trump’s campaign team has been accusing the Democrats of massive election fraud, intensifying legal efforts to challenge the results of the election and prevent vote certifications in states where it believes “illegal votes” were counted. Trump’s campaign lawyers have accused leaders in Democrat Party-run cities in key battleground states of carrying out a coordinated, “centralised” campaign of voter fraud, claiming to have “hundreds of witnesses”.

Meanwhile, Biden has said that his team doesn’t rule out the possibility of taking legal action against the Trump administration over the delays in the transition and has called the incumbent president’s refusal to concede “embarassing”. 

Challenges Ahead

Speaking on the most challenging issues facing Downing Street, Neil O’Brien succinctly said:

“Next year is roll out the coronavirus vaccine, recover the economy, save the country from separatism, sort out the next mega global world order… Other than that the prime minister has got nothing to do.”

In the coming weeks Boris Johnson is to determine the path that the UK follows post-Brexit, as the year-end deadline looms for the current transition period, with the European Union and Britain still struggling to hammer out an agreement that would shape their future relations.


Britain’s chief negotiator David Frost (L) and EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier arrive for a working breakfast after a seventh round of talks, in Brussels on August 21, 2020.

Amid the continuing coronavirus pandemic, issues of public spending have also taken precedence.

On the international arena, Johnson is facing the necessity of forging workable ties with the US President, whether a reelected Trump or the Democrat Joe Biden, depending on the final outcome of the 2020 elections.

The outlet states other challenges, such as a stance regarding China, and tackling climate change, with O’Brien set to help Johnson navigate the possible roadblocks ahead.

Amid internal tensions that took shape ahead of the ouster of Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain, O’Brien will need to restore a climate of trust between the PM and reportedly some irate Tory MPs.

AFP 2020 / Frank Augstein

Lee Cain, director of communication at the prime Ministers’ office, arrives at Downing Street in London, Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. An aide to Boris Johnson, director of communications Lee Cain has resigned amid reports of internal tensions in Downing Street.

“We have all these new colleagues from diverse backgrounds and careers and they are coming from seats that are quite different from traditional seats. We want to suck out the good ideas,” O’Brien was quoted as saying.

The new adviser, who worked for George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer under Prime Minister David Cameron, on the Northern Powerhouse initiative, aimed at boosting the local economy by investing in skills, innovation, transport and culture, O’Brien insists that the Tories do not have to ‘choose between Workington and Notting Hill’.

 “You have to do better among the places that feel left behind and working-class voters and at the same time appeal to younger voters and fight in the urban areas too,” said O’Brien, adding that there is no clash between the ‘green agenda and the red wall’.

 “It’s amazingly snobby to say everyone in the north hates doing anything environmentally friendly. Some things may be more salient than others but everyone has similar top priorities — wages, cost of living, fighting crime and no one dislikes green issues.”

O’Brien, 42, grew up in Huddersfield with Scottish parents, and represents the Leicestershire constituency of Harborough.

One of the issues he is believed to care about particularly is addressing regional inequality, opting to wield the phrase “levelling up” rather than “Northern Powerhouse” because he believes that problems are ‘spread around the country’.

“It sounds more positive… The turn in the economy over the last 40 years from manufacturing to services… has been very good for cities and so has the growth of higher education. Cities are no longer seen as RoboCop urban desolation. It’s cool to live in the city.”

O’Brien, writes the outlet, has campaigned to amend the government’s planning algorithm to create more new homes in cities, while slashing the number allocated to the suburbs and rural constituencies.

“The problem of affordability in housing is worse in the cities. It could be a double win if we save the countryside and regenerate urban areas.”

O’Brien has gone on record as being determined to ensure the state continues to modernise, hailing “digital reform.” When Johnson ruffled some feathers north of the border earlier, when he told a group of Tory MPs that devolution had been a “disaster”, O’Brien was quoted as not agreeing with the PM’s statement.

“I am a devolution fan and have spent a lot of my career trying to get devolution in England. He was quoted by the publication as saying that with the SNP expected to do well in the Scottish parliament elections in May “the Union will be a big issue next year”.

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A mountain to climb – Pakistan’s opposition takes on both the government and the army | Asia

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Wallabies star Michael Hooper takes cheeky shot at old mate Michael Cheika before clash with Argentina in Newcastle

But Hooper cheekily suggested the former Wallabies boss – who speaks several languages – couldn’t be getting his message across particularly succinctly.

“He can speak a lot of languages, but he can’t speak Spanish that well,” Hooper said with a laugh. “So I don’t know how his communication is going. But I’m sure he’s doing a lot for that environment and that duo there work really well together.

“They’re good mates as well. I’ve played around them a lot and it will be great for professional rugby that you’re able to be on the other side now and come up against these guys. It’s good.”

Michael Cheika celebrates Argentina's famous victory over New Zealand last Saturday.

Michael Cheika celebrates Argentina’s famous victory over New Zealand last Saturday.Credit:Getty

The Pumas are always a passionate side, but many eagle-eyed Australian rugby fans have pointed to Pablo Matera’s “show some respect” speech in their historic win against the All Blacks as having all the hallmarks of Cheika.

That may be the case, but Hooper believes Australia’s must-win clash with Argentina on Saturday night at McDonald Jones Stadium will boil down to a little more than respect.

“I’m not too sure what [Cheika is] going to be throwing out and what the boys are going to be coming up with this week, but it’s imperative for us to focus on ourselves and what we want to deliver,” Hooper said.

“It’s Test match rugby and it’s us versus them. Who wants to play their game harder, has more belief in their game. That’s the important [part] tomorrow night.”

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Jesy Nelson takes ‘extended’ break from Little Mix for ‘medical reasons’

The singer, 29, confirmed the news through a statement from the band’s management.

Nelson has missed a number of public appearances in recent weeks including the final of Little Mix’s BBC One talent show The Search and a performance at the MTV European Music Awards.

A statement from the group’s publicist said: “Jesy is having extended time off from Little Mix for private medical reasons. We will not be issuing any further comment currently and ask media to please respect her privacy at this time.”

It is not known what is wrong with Nelson or how unwell she is.

It comes shortly after the release of Confetti, Little Mix’s sixth studio album and first since departing Simon Cowell’s label Syco.

Little Mix – which also features bandmates Jade Thirlwall, Perrie Edwards and Leigh-Anne Pinnock – formed on The X Factor in 2011 and have become one of the country’s biggest-selling girl bands.

They left Syco Music for RCA in November 2018.

Cowell later launched another version of The X Factor, called The Band, to rival the girl group’s The Search.

Nelson has spoken openly about her battle with anxiety and previously revealed in a BBC documentary called Odd One Out that abuse on social media got so bad she attempted to take her own life.

The programme won her the award for best factual entertainment at the 2020 National Television Awards.

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