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Briton Norris vows to shine in rookie F1 season

Norris came through the McLaren junior driver programme like Lewis Hamilton. Credit: PA

British teenager Lando Norris has vowed to prove his Formula One stripes by beating his McLaren team-mate Carlos Sainz at every race in his rookie year.

The 19-year-old will become Britain's youngest grand prix driver when he lines up on the grid at the first round of the season in Melbourne on March 17.

Norris will partner Sainz, a driver with more than 80 grands prix under his belt, in a new-look line up for the struggling McLaren team in 2019.

But speaking in his first official commitment as an F1 driver, Norris said: "My ideal aim is to beat Carlos at every race, and in every qualifying session. That is an unrealistic goal to set at the moment, but I will do the best job I can, and complete as much preparation as I can to be ready for it."

Norris boasts an impressive junior resume, and is viewed as the best British prospect since five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton burst on to the scene for McLaren in 2007.

Hamilton made an emphatic mark on the sport by coming within one point of winning the title, and upstaging his team-mate, the reigning two-time champion Fernando Alonso, in his debut campaign.

But - following McLaren's demise in recent years - Norris will be aware that his credentials are set to be judged against team-mate Sainz, who arrives at McLaren after three years with Red Bull's junior team, Toro Rosso, and a season at Renault.

"Every year when I have gone into a new series, my team-mate will have had one, maybe two seasons in that discipline, whereas Carlos is heading into his fifth year in F1," added Norris. "So, that's a big difference.

"There are also some circuits I haven't been to before - Singapore, Montreal, Melbourne - and tracks like Monaco where it is not always easy to be super-quick in an F1 car straightaway. But, of course, I would like to beat him, and that is my aim, and my goal."


Kubica to return to Formula One eight years after rally crash

Robert Kubica will return to F1 next season. Credit: PA

Robert Kubica has completed his remarkable return to Formula One racing after being announced as a Williams driver for next season.

Kubica, who has not taken part in a grand prix for eight years following the horrific rally crash which left him seriously injured, joins Englishman George Russell at the British team in 2019.

The 33-year-old Polish driver has competed in a series of practice sessions for Williams this year and his promotion to their race team for next season was announced in Abu Dhabi, the venue of his last race back in 2010, on Thursday.

Kubica said: "Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who has helped me during what was a difficult period of my life over these last few years.

"It has been a challenging journey to make it back to the Formula One grid, but what seemed almost impossible is now beginning to feel possible, as I am excited to be able to say that I will be on the Formula One grid in 2019."

Community service for Verstappen after Ocon incident

Verstappen confronted Ocon after a racing incident during the Brazilian Grand Prix. Credit: PA

Max Verstappen has been sentenced to two days of community service by Formula One's governing body after he sensationally shoved Esteban Ocon following Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix.

Verstappen, furious with Ocon after their collision denied the Red Bull driver a fine win at Interlagos, squared up to the Frenchman as he was about to be weighed, before pushing him three times.

FIA officials had to jump in and restrain Ocon from retaliating.

The dramatic incident was caught on camera, and both Verstappen, 21, and Ocon, one year the Dutchman's senior, were hauled in front of the stewards.

Verstappen, who finished second to Lewis Hamilton, was found guilty of "starting an altercation, pushing or hitting Ocon forcefully several times in the chest", and failing to "act as a role model to drivers of all levels".

As such, the Dutchman must now serve two days of work of "public interest" at the FIA's request within the next six months.

Verstappen was seething with rage after his collision with Ocon on lap 44.

Ocon, one lap down on the Dutchman and in 16th place, went wheel-to-wheel with the race leader at 220mph, before he banged into the right-rear of Verstappen's car through the Senna Esses, sending him into a race-losing spin.

"What a f****** idiot," Verstappen fumed over the radio before he recovered to finish less than two seconds behind Hamilton.

"I don't know what to say," Verstappen's race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase said.

"I know what to say," Verstappen replied. "I hope I don't find him in the paddock."


Vietnam to host F1 street race in Hanoi

Formula One has reached a deal to stage a race on the streets of Vietnam's capital city. Credit: PA

Formula One has reached a deal to stage a race on the streets of Vietnam's capital city.

The grand prix, which will take place in Hanoi, has been mooted for some time, but was officially confirmed by F1 officials on Wednesday.

The street race will be staged from 2020 onwards, and it becomes the first new addition to the calendar in the post-Bernie Ecclestone era.

Earlier this year, F1's American owners' Liberty Media were forced to put plans for a race in Miami on hold after opposition from local groups.

While there are just two of this year's record-equalling 21 races remaining, Wednesday's announcement, coupled with a potential Miami race in 2020, could now see that tally increase to 23, despite resistance from some teams.

The inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix, pencilled in for April 2020, will take place over a 3.46-mile track on a combination of existing and newly-built roads.

England's Russell to race for Williams next season

Russell, 20, will follow in the footsteps of 2009 world champion Jenson Button.

England's George Russell is to race for Williams next season after agreeing a multi-year deal with the British Formula One team.

Russell, 20, will follow in the footsteps of 2009 world champion Jenson Button who made his debut for Williams nearly two decades ago.

The highly-rated Russell is the reserve driver for Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes team this year, and following Lando Norris's McLaren promotion, he will now become the second British rookie on the grid in 2019.

Russell is also on the brink of securing the Formula Two championship, the feeder series to F1, following an impressive debut campaign in which he has won six races.

He holds a 37-point title lead with just the season-deciding races in Abu Dhabi to come next month.

"It is a huge honour to join a team of Williams' prestige and heritage," Russell, from Kings Lynn in Norfolk, said. "Formula One has been a life-long dream.

"From watching the races when I was a child, it feels surreal that I will now be lining up on the grid, alongside drivers whom I have admired for years.

"I cannot wait for Melbourne next year and to join Williams at the start of what we all believe will be the start of an exciting new journey."

Hamilton insists Vettel deserves more respect

Hamilton and Vettel have enjoyed a competitive rivalry over the years. Credit: PA

Lewis Hamilton has said Sebastian Vettel deserves more respect after moving to defend his championship rival.

Vettel attracted criticism for his collision with Max Verstappen at Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix which leaves Hamilton on the brink of winning his fifth world title.

The Ferrari driver's coming together with Verstappen was his seventh significant error of the campaign, and his 10th in two seasons fighting Hamilton for the championship.

But Hamilton, who will secure the title if he wins in Austin, Texas next Sunday and Vettel fails to finish second, insists the German is owed greater credit.

"I feel the media need to show a little more respect for Sebastian," he wrote in a message posted to his Instagram story on Tuesday.

"You simply cannot imagine how hard it is to do what we do at our level, for any athlete at the top of their game that is.

"It is to be expected that being humans we will make mistakes but it is how we get through them that counts."

While a dominant Hamilton, who will visit the Mercedes factory in Brackley, Northamptonshire on Wednesday, has secured six victories in seven rounds of remarkable racing, Vettel and Ferrari's championship challenge has fallen dramatically off the rails.

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