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Lewis Hamilton wins Russian Grand Prix for Mercedes

posted 12 Oct 2014, 08:34 by Mpelembe   [ updated 12 Oct 2014, 08:35 ]

Hamilton and Rosberg deliver a 1-2 for Mercedes to give the manufacturer its first constructors' title.

SOCHI, RUSSIA (OCTOBER 12, 2014)(FOM) -  Lewis Hamilton won the inaugural Russian Formula One Grand Prix and extended his championship lead to 17 points on Sunday (October 12) in a Mercedes one-two that clinched the team's first constructors' title.

The Briton, who started on pole position, chalked up his fourth win in a row and ninth of the season after German team mate Nico Rosberg locked up at the first corner and damaged his tyres in a costly error.

With 100 points still to be won from the final three races, thanks to double points in Abu Dhabi, Hamilton has 291 points to Rosberg's 274 with everything still to play for.

Hamilton, the 2008 world champion, also became only the fourth driver in F1 history to win nine races in a single season and equalled Nigel Mansell's British record of 31 career victories.

On a warm and sunny afternoon in the Black Sea resort, Rosberg kept himself firmly in contention with a fine recovery drive from 20th place after his second lap pitstop.

"Nico did a great job to return from his mistake," said Hamilton. "To get the first championship forMercedes Benz is amazing, a beautiful day.

"It's very cool to have won the first race here."

Finland's Valtteri Bottas finished third for Williams, and set the fastest lap, in a race watched by Russian President Vladimir Putin at a circuit snaking around some of the landmark venues from this year's Winter Olympics.

Putin also presented the trophies, in what Hamilton described as a 'kind of surreal' moment, with the drivers making sure he had left the podium before spraying the champagne that had lain virtually untouched last weekend following Jules Bianchi's horrific accident in Japan.

The one-two was the ninth of the season for Mercedes, one shy of McLaren's 1988 record, and formally ended Red Bull's run of four titles in a row.

"It will be going just up the road to Brackley and congratulations to Mercedes on what they have achieved this season, they have been phenomenal," said Red Bull principal Christian Horner. "We will be working hard to take the trophy back the 12 miles to us in 12 months' time."

Mercedes returned to Formula One with a works team only in 2010, after pulling out in 1955, while the constructors' championship did not exist before 1958.

Before the start, the 21 drivers had stood silently in a circle on the starting grid in a tribute to Bianchi, who remains critically injured, while the Russian national anthem sounded.

The 25-year-old Marussia driver was in all their thoughts following his crash into a recovery tractor atSuzuka and the sport breathed a collective sigh of relief that the race in Russia was uneventful.

While Hamilton had an easy afternoon on the track, others remained haunted by Suzuka.

Marussia entered only one car for the race, keeping Bianchi's in the garage, with Britain's Max Chilton lasting just 10 laps before returning to the pit lane and retiring.

Rosberg, who started alongside Hamilton on the front row, got ahead of his team mate at the start but then locked up and went wide, 'flat spotting' his front tyres in the process.

"It was just a mistake on my side...after that the tyres were just square, vibrating so much. I thought that was it," the German told reporters.

Told to give the place back, the German informed the team he would have to pit.

After a change from the soft to medium tyres, he rejoined with only Brazilian Felipe Massa behind him in the second Williams, asking over the radio 'what's the strategy now?'.

"We think we need to go to the end on these," came the reply and Rosberg did just that, making the tyres last for the remaining 52 laps.

McLaren's Jenson Button finished fourth with Danish team mate Kevin Magnussen fifth.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso was sixth, after a chaotic pitstop, while Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo and four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel were seventh and eighth.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen took ninth place, with Force India's Sergio Perez 10th.

Result from the Formula One GP Russia at Sochi International Street Circuit on Sunday

1. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 1:31:50.744

2. Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes +00:13.657

3. Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams-Mercedes 00:17.425

4. Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 00:30.234

5. Kevin Magnussen (Denmark) McLaren 00:53.616

6. Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari 01:00.016

7. Daniel Ricciardo (AustraliaRedBull - Renault 01:01.812

8. Sebastian Vettel (GermanyRedBull - Renault 01:06.185

9. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari 01:18.877

10. Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India - Mercedes 01:20.067

11. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Williams-Mercedes 01:20.877

12. Nico Huelkenberg (Germany) Force India - Mercedes 01:21.309

13. Jean-Eric Vergne (FranceToro Rosso - Renault 01:37.295

14. Daniil Kvyat (RussiaToro Rosso - Renault 1 lap

15. Esteban Gutierrez (Mexico) Sauber - Ferrari 1 lap

16. Adrian Sutil (Germany) Sauber - Ferrari 1 lap

17. Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus - Renault 1 lap

18. Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Lotus - Renault 1 lap

19. Marcus Ericsson (Sweden) Caterham - Renault 2 laps

r. Kamui Kobayashi (Japan) Caterham - Renault 32 laps

r. Max Chilton (Britain) Marussia - Ferrari 44 laps

(rank: r = retired, nc = not classified)

Fastest Lap: ,, lap

Driver and constructor standings after the Formula One GP Russia at Sochi

Drivers Points

1. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 291

2. Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 274

3. Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Red Bull 199

4. Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams 145

5. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Red Bull 143

6. Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari 141

7. Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 94

8. Nico Huelkenberg (Germany) Force India 76

9. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Williams 71

10. Kevin Magnussen (Denmark) McLaren 49

11. Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India 47

12. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari 47

13. Jean-Eric Vergne (FranceToro Rosso 21

14. Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus 8

15. Daniil Kvyat (RussiaToro Rosso 8

16. Jules Bianchi (France) Marussia 2

17. Adrian Sutil (Germany) Sauber 0

18. Marcus Ericsson (Sweden) Caterham 0

19. Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Lotus 0

20. Esteban Gutierrez (Mexico) Sauber 0

21. Max Chilton (Britain) Marussia 0

22. Kamui Kobayashi (Japan) Caterham 0

Constructors Points

1. Mercedes 565

2. RedBull - Renault 342

3. Williams-Mercedes 216

4. Ferrari 188

5. McLaren 143

6. Force India - Mercedes 123

7. Toro Rosso - Renault 29

8. Lotus - Renault 8

9. Marussia - Ferrari 2

10. Sauber - Ferrari 0

11. Caterham - Renault 0

Poland stun world champions Germany with first win

posted 11 Oct 2014, 15:25 by Mpelembe   [ updated 11 Oct 2014, 15:36 ]

WARSAW, POLAND (OCTOBER 11, 2014) (REUTERS) - Poland stunned World Cup winners Germany 2-0 on Saturday (October 11) to earn their first ever victory over their neighbours and take control of Euro 2016 qualifying Group D.

Arkadiusz Milik put them ahead with a well-timed header in the 51st minute and Sebastian Milaadded another late in the game to hand the hosts a memorable victory against bitter rivals Germanyafter 18 previous failed attempts.

Poland, who had scored once in their previous six competitive meetings and had lost 12 of 18 games against either Germany or West Germany, now go top of Group D on six points, as many as Ireland.Germany are third on three after two games.

Wearing the black and red striped tops they had last worn during their 7-1 demolition of Brazil in the World Cup semi-final in July, Germany had none of their usual sharpness.

The Germans, playing in the stadium where they lost 2-1 to Italy in the Euro 2012 semi-final, were made to work hard against a solid Polish backline in front of a fiery 57,000 crowd.

Towering central defenders Kamil Glik and Lukasz Szukala also made sure to eliminate any aerial threat from Mats Hummels, playing his first game for Germany since the World Cup final.

The visitors, missing half a dozen starters including Bastian Schweinsteiger and Marco Reus, had their best chance in the 38th minute when Mario Goetze floated a cross to the far post but wingerKarim Bellarabi, on his debut, fired wired.

With Poland tiring towards halftime, the Germans carved out several more good chances but neitherThomas Mueller twice nor Bellarabi could find the back of the net.

But the hosts stunned Germany five minutes after the restart with Milik heading in a pinpoint Lukasz Piszczek cross.

As expected it turned out to be a one-sided second half with Germany attacking and the Poles waiting to hit back on the break.

Germany substitute Lukas Podolski shook the crossbar with his first touch of the ball before Mila sealed Poland's win when he tapped in from a Robert Lewandowski assist in the 88th.

Mourinho Says Chelsea Still Outsiders For Title Despite 6-0 Thumping Over Rivals Arsenal

posted 22 Mar 2014, 11:45 by Mpelembe   [ updated 22 Mar 2014, 11:46 ]

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho says that Chelsea are not the favourites for the title, despite blowing rivals Arsenal out the water in 'amazing' first 10 minutes

LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (MARCH 22, 2014) (ITN)  - Manager Jose Mourinho again played down Chelsea's Premier League title chances despite their 6-0 thrashing of Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on Saturday (March 22).

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It was Mourinho's best win with the club and embarrassed bitter rival Arsene Wenger on the Frenchman's 1,000th match in charge of Arsenal.

The victory kept Chelsea four points clear at the top of the table although closest pursuers Liverpool(one), Manchester City (three) and Arsenal (one) all have matches in hand.

"And Man City had everything in their hands, Liverpool is one point behind us, but they have also everything in their hands, nobody plays Champions League from the top four, only Man United, which I want to congratulate for that, for the victory against Olympiakos, but the top four, only us that have (Champions League), just the Premier League matches to play and we have at least two big Champions League matches in between." Mourinho told reporters, referring to the fact Manuel Pellegrini's team can overtake Chelsea if they win all their games in hand, and that all of Chelsea's main rivals are out of theChampions League.

Mourinho's men rattled in three goals between the fifth and 17th minutes and the Portuguese described it as "10 amazing minutes".

"I think 10 amazing minutes - and with 10 minutes you can win the game and in 10 minutes you can show everybody that today you wouldn't give any chance to any opponent and I am so happy with the approach," he said.

"We come, the way we used to say in football, we come to kill and in 10 minutes, we destroy.

Mourinho has repeatedly played down Chelsea's bid to win the league in his first season back at the club where he won two titles in 2005 and 2006 but the way the leaders played on Saturday will sound alarm bells among their rivals.

Classy goals from Samuel Eto'o and Andre Schuerrle put them 2-0 up before Eden Hazard converted a penalty.

Brazilian Oscar added two more either side of halftime before Egyptian substitute Mohamed Salah ran clean through to slide the ball under keeper Wojciech Szczesny for his first Chelsea goal.

To compound Arsenal's misery, defender Kieran Gibbs was wrongly sent off after 15 minutes when referee Andre Marriner punished him for handling the ball on the line when it was actually Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who committed the offence.

Mourinho believes referees should be allowed to see video replays of such incidents to avoid embarrasment.

"The sending off is, is big ammunition for the people like me that think that one little screen in front of the fourth official is a big help against this kind of mistakes," he said.

Chelsea's next match is against Crystal Palace on March 29 before they travel to Paris Saint-Germain for the first of their Champions League quarter-finals.

FIFA Say Qatar Issue For Ethics Committee And Brazil Stadiums On Track For World Cup

posted 21 Mar 2014, 12:18 by Mpelembe   [ updated 21 Mar 2014, 12:18 ]

FIFA President Sepp Blatter says the investigation into the decision to award the 2022 World Cup toQatar is a matter for the ethics committee, while General Secretary Jerome Valcke said that a financial impasse which threatened to cause further delays at Sao Paulo's World Cup stadium has been resolved.

 ZURICHSWITZERLAND (MARCH 21, 2014)(REUTERS) -  FIFA President Sepp Blatter played down allegations of corruption leveled at the organisation over the bid for the 2022 World Cup on Friday.

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There have been renewed claims this week that bribes were paid to ensure the tournament went toQatar.

Members of FIFA's executive committee are being interviewed by ethics chief Michael Garcia, who is also investigating the decision to award the 2018 World Cup to Russia and Qatar respectively.

A statement by the ethics committee was read out in the press conference following a FIFA executive committee meeting in Zurich.

It said they were aware of the allegations and would take appropriate action.

Blatter added that the ethics commission was independent and he could not comment on the issue.

"I'm happy that now we have an independent committee for ethics and this is a matter now to be dealt with by this committee," he told reporters.

"You have listened to the statement that the chair of this committee has made and I am not going to make any comments, please understand the situation, as long as the file is open with the president (of the ethics committee)."

The hosting rights for the two tournaments were both awarded December 2010. Thirteen members of the executive committee who made the decision, including FIFA president Sepp Blatter, remain while nine have left.

Those who have departed include Mohamed Bin Hammam, subsequently banned for life over a cash-for-votes scandal in the run-up to the 2011 FIFA presidential election, and Jack Warner, who resigned after being placed under investigation.

Russia defeated bids from England, Belgium-Netherlands and Spain-Portugal while Qatar won the race ahead of JapanSouth KoreaAustralia and the United States.

Asked if the vote would be held again if the ethics committee were to discover the vote had been bought, Blatter said he would not comment on any possibilities until the investigation was over.

"I can only answer what I have said, and I am not a prophet to see what comes out of any problems we have actually (at the moment) in international football, and this problem is now dealt with by an independent party and let them deal with this problem, and once dealt we can come back and we can have this dialogue about the responsibilities or not," he said.

When quizzed further he refused to comment and said journalists had to accept his position.

"99 percent, 99 percent of the presence here, they accepted the rules," Blatter said. "There are exceptions in the world we have to accept. Thank you ladies, thank you gentlemen, enjoy the day, enjoy the game."

Garcia, a former U.S. Attorney in New York, said in October that he planned to visit all the countries involved in the bidding process.

FIFA has subsequently launched a consultation process to discuss whether to switch the 2022 World Cup away from the scorching Qatari summer.

Asked if FIFA was looking at whether Russia could still hold the World Cup in 2018 after Moscow's takeover of the Ukrainian region of Crimea, Blatter said it was unlikely.

"During the executive committee of today we have received from our executive committee member Vitaly Mutko, he is also the Sports Minister for Russia, an intermediate report on the organisation of the World Cup 2018 in Russia, and there was... we have not any moves to have something changed," he said. "This World Cup has been given, or has been voted to Russia, and we are going forward with our work."

The committee also reviewed an update on the chaotic preparations for this year's tournament in Braziland said that a financial impasse which threatened to cause further delays at Sao Paulo's World Cup stadium has been resolved.

The Itaquerao stadium, being built by the Corinthians club, is due to open on April 15, nearly four months after the original Dec. 31 deadline FIFA, although Brazilian media reports said this week it might not be ready even then.

There was also uncertainty over who would finance temporary installations such as the media and VIP facilities, sponsors' tents and the big screen, however FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said this had been resolved.

"The Corinthians arena is the purpose of a meeting on Monday, the financial issue has been solved and now we have to make sure (everything is ready) because we only have 80 days that implement everything we need," he told reporters.

The arena, which will stage the opening World Cup match between hosts Brazil and Croatia, is due to officially open with a game between Corinthians and Flamengo.

Valcke said that Brazilian government plans to enforce ban all flights within a seven-kilometre radius of stadiums would not apply to most commercial flights.

Brazilian media had reported that the airports of CuiabaBelo HorizonteManaus and Fortaleza would have to shut as a result of the measure while flights would be restricted at other airports. However, Valcke said this was not the case.

Teams React To Champions League Draw As Holders Bayern Face Manchester United

posted 21 Mar 2014, 08:40 by Mpelembe   [ updated 21 Mar 2014, 08:41 ]

Bayern Munich are drawn Manchester United in the quarter-finals of the Champions League while Chelsea meet Paris St Germain while Barcelona will play Atletico Madrid whose city rivals Real take on Borussia Dortmund.

NYONSWITZERLAND (MARCH 21, 2014)(REUTERS) -  Bayern Munich are drawn Manchester United in the quarter-finals of the Champions Leaguewhile Chelsea meet Paris St Germain while Barcelona will play Atletico Madrid whose city rivals Real take on Borussia Dortmund.

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Titleholders Bayern Munich were drawn with Manchester United in the quarter-finals of this season'sChampions League on Friday (March 21).

It is a meeting that will inevitably spark memories of their 1999 final when United scored two goals at the death to win 2-1 however United have been well off the pace this season after David Moyes succeededAlex Ferguson as manager.

Bayern, who are on course of a Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup treble for the second season in a row, promised they would not be taking United likely despite their domestic problems.

"I think it's the third English team in that championship (Champions League) season after Manchester City and Arsenal, so the third time," said Bayern Munich board member Andreas Jung.

"But you cannot be happy to have Manchester United, for sure not. It's like this, you can be happy in the quarter-final but I think independent from the ranking and the league, actually I think Manchester United is an international top team and it depends of the performance of the two matches."

Manchester United Club Secretary, John Alexander, said they were looking forward to welcoming the champions to Old Trafford.

"I think they were teams all round weren't they? All eight sides are of the highest quality and all doing terrifically well in their divisions but to pick out the champions, what a fantastic tie for Old Trafford," he said.

Alexander added that despite mounting pressure on Moyes, whose team are currently seventh in theEnglish Premier League, the club were behind him as they aim to return as domestic challengers next season.

"Every club wants to win every game; Manchester United are no different," Alexander said. "I mean we've had terrific success but what's good about the club it takes everything in its stride and while we've had great times in the past we're all desperately trying to make sure we have great times again quickly as possible in the future."

Paris St Germain face Chelsea in a match between the two big spenders and Chelsea's Chief ExecutiveRon Gourlay said he expected a tough encounter.

"The teams that were in the draw, it was always going to be a difficult tie," said Chelsea Chief ExecutiveRon Gourlay. "Paris is close to home so I think taking everything into account they've got some fantastic individual players, good team.

"We know a lot about them so it will be very, very tough but it was always going to be tough no matter who we draw."

Real Madrid were given a chance to avenge last season's Champions League semi-final defeat by Borussia Dortmund when the teams were paired together.

Dortmund, who won the first leg 4-1 on the way to a 4-3 aggregate victory, will visit the Bernabeu for the first leg on April 1/2 with the return a week later.

Forward Robert Lewandowski, who scored all four goals in Dortmund's 4-1 win over Real last season, will be suspended for the first match against the nine-times champions.

Real Madrid Insitutional Relations Director, Emilio Butragueno, said: "Well we're talking about quarter-finals. We played against them four times last season and we know they are very strong and I know that this season Bundesliga, the performance hasn't been so, so good but they're very competitive and we know it's going to be a very even tie and we'll have to play at our best if we want to qualify."

The remaining tie is an all-Spanish affair between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, the teams' first-ever meeting in European competition.

Atletico General Manager, Clemente Villaverde, said: "First we are very happy to have the possibility to play the quarter-finals with these teams and in this case it's very important for us to play againstBarcelona. We are all friends, we have played a lot of matches in the last month in the Spanish competition, also in the Super Cup and I think that the match will be very open for both teams."

Barcelona Delegate for UEFA Matters, Amador Bernabeu, added: "Atletico Madrid, we know is one team, one of the Spanish teams; we know the characteristics of this team. It is not easy for us but I think the first match is at home. It is, for me I think it's good.

It's necessary in the first match to resolve (avoid) the elimination."

On Sunday, Barcelona play Real in a crucial match in the La Liga title race. Real are leading the table with 70 points, four ahead of Barca with 10 games remaining.

A victory for Real would put them in a very strong position to regain the title but Butragueno said it was still too soon to think about the title even if they win.

"Well after this game there will be nine games left so it's a long way to go so then we'll see," saidBarcelona delegate for UEFA Matters, Amador Bernabeu. "We have to play very much, yes, one at a time and then we'll see. So, first of all we have to totally focus on Barcelona, after that on Wednesday we are playing against Sevilla, so our fixture list is very tight and it's going to be very difficult but I think we are prepared, I think the team are doing very well and then we'll see. Football is unpredictable."

Mourinho Takes Jibe At Old Rival Wenger Ahead Of Frenchman's 1,000th Game In Charge Of Arsenal

posted 21 Mar 2014, 08:36 by Mpelembe   [ updated 21 Mar 2014, 08:38 ]

LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (MARCH 21, 2014) (REUTERS) - Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho took another sly dig at Arsene Wenger on Friday (March 21) while expressing admiration for a rival he dubbed a "specialist in failure" only a month ago.

Speaking ahead of Arsenal's visit to Stamford Bridge on Saturday (March 22), when their French manager marks his 1,000th game in charge, Mourinho said he would like to emulate Wenger's longevity.

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"I admire him and I admire Arsenal," the Portuguese told reporters.

Mourinho being Mourinho, he could not resist a sting in the tail to the praise for a manager whose side have not won a trophy since 2005.

"it's not possible to have 1,000 matches unless the club is also a fantastic club in the way they support their managers, especially in their bad moments and especially when the bad moments were quite a lot. So I admire the manager and I admire the club," he said.

Chelsea currently lead the league with a four point advantage over Arsenal and Wenger needs no extra motivation to beat them at Stamford Bridge after dismissing Mourinho's comments last month as "silly" and "disrespectful".

However, Wenger has yet to beat a Mourinho side in the previous ten attempts. However, Moutinho said that his personal record would have little outcome on the match.

"It's Chelsea against - It's Chelsea against Arsenal. I don't even play with Inter or with Madrid or with Porto- I just played with Chelsea and its Chelsea-ArsenalArsenal-Chelsea. It's not me against him."

German Prosecutor Demands Five-And-A-Half Years In Jail For Bayern Boss Hoeness

posted 13 Mar 2014, 05:45 by Mpelembe   [ updated 13 Mar 2014, 05:45 ]

A verdict is expected in the trial of Bayern Munich President Uli Hoeness, accused of evading millions of euros in taxes, with the prosecutor demanding a jail term of five-and-a-half years.

MUNICHGERMANY (MARCH 13, 2014) (REUTERS) - Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness could be sentenced to five-and-a-half years in jail for evading millions of euros in taxes, state prosecutor Achim von Engel said on Thursday (March 13).

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Hoeness, who turned Bayern Munich into one of the world's most successful soccer clubs, has admitted he evaded 27.2 million euros in taxes but is hoping for leniency in one of the most closely watched tax evasion cases in German history.

The prosecutor rejected Hoeness's defence that he should not be subjected to a criminal conviction and prison because he voluntarily disclosed that he evaded German taxes on income earned in secret Swiss bank accounts over the last decade.

The prosecutor could have sought up to 10 years in jail for Hoeness, 62. The case hinges on the question whether Hoeness, who played for West Germany when it won the World Cup in 1974, fully cooperated in his voluntary disclosure.

Judge Rupert Heindl is expected to announce the verdict later on Thursday. The Hoeness case has shocked the nation and prompted thousands of German tax dodgers to turn themselves in.

Bayern fans waiting for the verdict in front of the court building still hoped for Hoeness to avoid a prison sentence.

"As a Bayern fan of course I see the position of Uli Hoeness with the FC Bayern team as indispensable. And I hope that he will get out of it today. We now must see if it happens this way. The federal Supreme Court at some point ruled that you should go to jail from one million euros onwards. Here in Bavaria the clocks are ticking differently and therefore I hope, that this will be same for the Uli Hoeness trial."said fan Paul Bluem.

Yvonne Koehler, who was also waiting in front of the Munich court, said she thought Hoeness would have to pay a hefty fine.

"And probably two, three years in prison, approximately," she added.

Tax evasion is a serious crime in GermanyPeter Graf, the late father of tennis championSteffi Graf, was sentenced in 1997 to three years and nine months in jail for evading 12.3 million marks (6.3 million euros). He was released after 25 months.

Drivers Look Ahead To 2014 Season Before Sunday's Australian Grand Prix

posted 13 Mar 2014, 05:41 by Mpelembe   [ updated 13 Mar 2014, 05:42 ]

2013 F1 Champion Sebastian Vettel says Red Bull's preparation for upcoming Australian Grand Prix has not been ideal.

MELBOURNEAUSTRALIA (MARCH 13, 2014) (FOM) -  Red Bull are not in the best position in terms of preparation for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, reigning champion Sebastian Vettel said on Thursday (March 13).

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Vettel, bidding for a fifth consecutive title, comes into Sunday's (March 16) race at Albert Park with his team scrambling to come to grips with the new hybrid turbo era in Formula One.

Red Bull, one of four teams using the troubled Renault power unit, was unable to finish a race simulation for either Vettel or his new Australian team mate Daniel Ricciardo, and badly lagged rivals Mercedes and Ferrari in terms of mileage.

"I think our pre-season testing, our preparation, hasn't been ideal but, yes, we are probably not in the best position for this race but I think it's a different story when we think about the Championship - it's a long way to go, I think two years back Fernando was on the grid with 1.5 seconds to pole position and he was very close to beat us for the title at the very last race," he said.

"So, anything can happen, that's why this race is important, just as any other one but there is a lot of races this year."

Red Bull's struggles to adapt to the new V6 engine have given rival teams hope of ending their four-year stranglehold on the constructors' and drivers' championships, or at a minimum end the German's run of nine consecutive race victories.

The prospect of seeing Sebastian Vettel beaten for the first time since last July is just one of the many novelties Sunday's season-opening Australian Formula One Grand Prix promises to deliver.

Just how much trouble Vettel's Red Bull team might be in is one of the questions waiting for an answer as the sport's unpredictable new turbo era whooshes into action atMelbourne's Albert Park circuit.

The quadruple world champion won the last nine races of 2013 but the 26-year-old German spent much of his time during the pre-season tests in Spain and Bahrainwatching the car being worked on in the garage.

Red Bull are braced for a reality check as they and partners Renault work against the clock to fix the troublesome 1.6 litre V6 hybrid turbo engine and its complicated new energy recovery systems.

After an occasionally tempestuous five years with the plain-spoken Mark Webber, Vettel has a younger Australian team mate in the garage in Ricciardo, who graduated from sister team Toro Rosso.

Riciardo, who makes his Red Bull debut in his home country, said that he was very excited to get out on the track after a busy week of media appearences.

"We are all a bit unsure how good our cars are you know? Speaking for all the drivers, I think we are all just curious and hanging out to get on the track this weekend and see where everyone stands and get a clearer picture. I've had a busy week leading up to the race so I'm probably more excited than anyone else right now to get in the car," he said.

Many of the more experienced drivers, such as former champions Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, addressed the problems posed by the new technical regulations this year.

"The car itself, and the technology Formula One brought this year is a little bit complex to everyone and we are learning and developing the car every day that we work on it so, as I said, its a little bit of a new situation for everybody and we just need to put everything together, maximise what we have, and see where we are," said Alonso.

Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have sounded quietly confident about a car that is sleeker than many of its 'ugly' new-look rivals.

"Yes, I mean, it's very technical this year so everyone's in the same boat - we're obviously always trying to find where the advantages can be between two drivers and from race to race I think you will see one time he is ahead, one time I am ahead, same as all of last year but, obviously, the goal is to be ahead all the time," said 2008 champion Hamilton.

Former Ferrari driver, Felipe Massa, who now drives for the new-look Williams Martini Racing, a British team, highlighted the cultural differences between racing for Italian and British teams.

"The Italians - they cannot talk without, you know, shaking the hands, you know, and I am like that because I am from Brazil as well so for sure it is a big change for me - I am trying to learn quickly you know everything and changing some names that they - understanding the way they talk as well because I never lived in England so its also new for me but its nice, pretty, its a nice experience as well you know, but definitely the mentality is pretty different," said the Brazilian.

New Mclaren driver, Dane Kevin Magnussen, is one of three drivers who will make their Formula One debuts on Sunday, along with Caterham's Marcus Ericsson and Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat. Magussen says it is a dream come true to finally race in F1.

"It is a dream come true and every day is fantastic at the moment - I am sure it will keep staying like that. But I am just really excited to be here - its been a long winter since signing and I really have been looking forward to this weekend," he said.

The Australian Grand Prix is the traditional curtain-raiser for the season and was won last year by Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen, who is now racing for Ferrari.

Formula One Teams Travel To Australian GP And A Trip Into The Unknown

posted 8 Mar 2014, 06:54 by Mpelembe   [ updated 8 Mar 2014, 06:55 ]

Season-opening Australian race sees all-new cars, engines and technology which may end dominance of champions Red Bull.

MARANELLO, ITALY (FERRARI VNR) -  Formula One's new cars will start the first race of the season in Melbourneon March 16 with the largest package of technical changes for decades.

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The premier formula of motorsport has been given an energy-saving facelift with teams spending huge sums of money trying to conform to the new rules.

Gone are the 2.4 V8 engines of last season. All cars must be powered by 1.6 litre V6 turbocharged engines, a variety last seen in Formula One in 1988. The cars now carry an energy-recovery system that harvests the heat of the exhaust gases and the stopping-force of the brakes to produce a significant boost of power for over 30 seconds a lap, useful to overtake or keep from being overtaken. The tyres still need to be nurtured or they will lose their performance, and the fuel allocation has been cut from about 160kg to 100kg, so the engines must run lean to reach the finish.

Three engine manufacturers are supplying the whole field of 22 cars: Mercedes (Mercedes team, McLaren, Willams, Force India), Ferrari (Ferrari team, Sauber, Marussia) and Renault (Red Bull, Toro Rosso, Lotus, Caterham).

Preseason testing showed all teams experiencing teething trouble with the new systems but some had major problems with cars repeatedly breaking down and losing valuable testing time.

World champions Red Bull Racing are the most notable victim of unreliability and go into the Australian GP "on the back foot" according to team principal Christian Horner.

On the driver front Ferrari now have two world champions with Spain's Fernando Alonso, champion in 2005 and 2006, and new recruit Kimi Raikkonen, the Finn having been world champion in 2007.

Mercedes continue with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg just as last season, and many have tipped the team for title success after a strong showing in testing.

A revitalized Williams team is now Williams Martini Racing, and sporting the go-faster stripes of its new sponsor.

Last season was one for the team to forget, scoring just five points and ninth position out of 11 teams.

Now they have 11 times race winner Felipe Massa, fresh from Ferrari, and he is pleased he decided to sign for Williams instead of some of the other teams he had considered.

"The possibilities I have, going to Lotus or maybe to Force India, or maybe even McLaren which was a very small chance. But I think I did right, I made the best move, you know," the Brazilian said. "I think it was the right time. You know I miss so much to get back competitive. Williams is missing so much to get back to the, you know, top level."

Testing saw Williams as one of the fastest and most reliable with a Mercedes engine and a car that appears to run consistently. Finland's driver Valtteri Bottas is starting his second season after proving quick in his rookie year.

Red Bull Racing has four-time and current world champion Sebastian Vettel being joined by former Toro Rosso driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia. The team's testing difficulties seemed at first to centre on their Renault engine which performed fine at the Renault factory but not in the Red Bull car.

However other teams, notably Caterham and Toro Rosso, overcame problems with the Renault engine and its cooling, and delivered some long reliable runs. Red Bull's problems persisted with Vettel just completing one lap on the penultimate day of tests. But Red Bull have started a season with problems in the past and then developed the car back into points contention later in the season. The 2014 season may be no different.

Tony Fernandes, the Malaysian owner of the Caterham team, says he hopes the 2014 season will see them score their first points. First as Lotus Racing and thenCaterham, the team is entering its fifth season without finishing tenth or better. Scoring one or more points brings a sizeable financial bonus which can boost a team into the midfield.

Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi comes to Caterham courtesy of his Japanese fans who have raised enough cash for him to buy into the team - he is driving for free. He was dropped by Sauber for 2013 and has had to sit out a season.

Kobayashi is joined by Sweden's Marcus Ericsson, following in the tradition of the much-loved Swedish driver Ronnie Peterson who twice came second in the world championship in the 1970s before his death.

The Sauber team's testing experience illustrates the uncertainty before the start of the season.

Drivers Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez sometimes were able to drive their car reliably and make progress on its development, and sometimes the car repeatedly broke down and would not run cleanly.

Problems like this also afflicted McLaren with Jenson Button and new driver Kevin Magnussen of Denmark finding themselves stranded on occasion.

McLaren's chief executive Ron Dennis returns to take control of the Formula One operation, aiming to improve the fortunes of a team that finished fifth in the 2013 world championship, their worst result since being excluded for breaking the rules in 2007.

The 2014 season comprises 19 races with teams expecting significant improvement in performance and reliability after the early "fly-away" races.

Birmingham City FC Boss Jailed For Six Years For Money Laundering

posted 7 Mar 2014, 03:10 by Mpelembe   [ updated 7 Mar 2014, 03:10 ]

Hong Kong court sentences Birmingham City Football Club owner Carson Yeungto six years of prison for money laundering.

HONG KONG, CHINA (MARCH 7, 2014) (REUTERS) -  Birmingham City Football Club boss Carson Yeung was sentenced to six years in jail on Friday (March 7) for laundering $93 million following a high-profile trial that cast a spotlight on how the hairdresser-turned-businessman made his fortune.

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Yeung, 54, who had denied the charges of laundering the money between January 2001 and December 2007, had faced up to seven years in jail. He was found guilty by a Hong Kong court on Monday (March 3) of five counts of money-laundering. He had denied the charges.

In glasses and a face mask, Yeung bowed his head as he left the court building in a prison van after the sentence.

About 30 photographers and cameramen swarmed around the van, some chasing it down the street to get a snap of the football club boss.

Yeung was arrested in 2011 and his trial lasted more than 50 days.

A police spokeswoman said the entire process had been arduous, but they were very happy about the outcome.

"Both the investigation and trial have been an arduous experience. Our team has worked hard on the case and we have the co-operation of the judiciary. We are very happy about the result and the sentence. We also feel encouraged, because fighting money laundering is a very difficult task," said Gloria Yu, superintendent of the Hong Kong Police's Financial Investigations Division.

In the verdict, Judge Douglas Yau said Yeung had lied about how he made his money and exaggerated the amount of cash generated by his hair salon business and through gambling.

A former hair stylist to Hong Kong's rich and famous, Yeung had told the court he amassed his wealth through hairdressing, share trading, property purchases, gambling in the world's casino hub of Macau and other investments.

Prosecutors had pointed to what they said were suspicious cheque payments made to Yeung by employees of Macau companies, including a junket operator, which earns commissions from casinos to attract cash-rich gamblers.

However, Yu on Friday said that it would be impossible for the police to uncover the source of Yeung's fortunes.

"It is impossible for us to know where his money comes from, okay? But when he dealt with such an enormous amount of money, any reasonable person would have a reasonable doubt to suspect the money comes from illegal means," Yu said.

As a free financial centre, Hong Kong has become a popular place for Chinese to set up companies and conduct business, in some cases to obscure their assets through money-laundering.

A new anti-money laundering (AML) ordinance came into effect in April 2012, bringing stricter requirements for bank monitoring of customers and the reporting of suspicious transactions to authorities.

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