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Great to see Felipe Massa enjoy pole position as Ferrari smash world record for biggest ever supercar parade at Silverstone

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Felipe Massa relaxing before taking to the track at Silverstone. Photos copyright:  VSI Enterprises

Felipe Massa relaxing before taking to the track at Silverstone. Photos copyright: VSI Enterprises

BY JOHN GUBBA

At Silverstone to interview Felipe Massa for Sky Sports News over the weekend, I spent over an hour in the company of the Brazilian and could only marvel at the way this hugely popular Formula One star has put behind him his horrific crash in the Hungarian Grand Prix three years ago.

Massa was in pole position as Ferrari smashed the world record for the biggest ever parade of supercars and poignantly his passenger during Saturday’s spectacular feat was the President of BEN, the charity that supports autoworkers and their families who have fallen on hard times.

The fact that Massa is not one of those who needs help is testimony to his remarkable escape from his dice with death. Since surviving his 2009 crash in Budapest, he has made a full recovery form the fractured skull that left him in intensive care for 48 hours.

On the track he is still a contender, despite speculation that his place at Ferrari is under threat. His recent form and outstanding support for team-mate Fernando Alonso confirms that he is still an irresistible force. And speaking to Massa one-to-one it is clear that he still has that burning desire to win races.

Trackside: Felipe Massa told me he is hungry for success in the upcoming Singapore Grand Pix

Trackside: Massa told me he is hungry for success in the upcoming Singapore Grand Pix.

He certainly enjoyed the ambassadorial role he was given by Ferrari to lead out a convoy of 964 Ferraris, piloting a black beauty in the shape of a 458 spider.

Enthusiasts of the iconic Italian racing car had flocked to the Northamptonshire circuit from every part of Great Britain and across Europe. Their effort almost doubled the previous record set four years ago in Japan when 490 Ferraris converged on the Fuji Racing Circuit.

It is estimated the total value of the Italian convoy was well in excess of £100 million, with a number of million-pound Ferrari Enzos in the procession as well as several iconic Ferrari F40s – worth around £400,000 each.

Meanwhile, Ferrari’s donation of £5 for every car that took part meant BEN received a total of £4820.

Marco Simoncelli was set for greatness before his fatal crash at the Malaysian MotoGP in Sepang

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Marco Simoncelli Facts

Marco Simoncelli Facts

BY CORINNE GUBBA

Only 24 years old and set for greatness. Another tragic loss of a sporting hero; Marco Simoncelli. Motor cycling is seen as a dangerous sport and the riders know this, but they gain a huge amount of fun, excitement and adrenaline from doing it. Riding motor cycles at high speeds accidents are going to happen even with the best riders.

The fatal crash occurred when Edwards’ bike ran cleanly into Simoncelli hitting the back of his head taking his helmet off with Rossi catching the edge of the accident. It is very rare for a riders helmet to come clean off, the impact would have been huge. With out a riders helmet they are extremely vulnerable.  Simoncelli succumbed to his injuries just 15 minutes after reaching the medical centre.

Before the accident Simoncelli was in 4th place.

Repsol Honda’s Pedrosa said: “In a tragedy like this there is not much to say. I just want to give my condolences to his family and all the people who love him. I’ve been with his father and all we could do was to hug, nothing else matters.

“It was a fatal accident and everybody in the paddock remains in shock.

“Many times we ourselves forget how dangerous this sport can be and when you lose people on the way nothing has any meaning. It’s clear that we all do what we like, what we love, but on days like today nothing matters.”

Marco Simoncelli

Marco Simoncelli

Tribute’s on Twiter: 
“R.I.P Marco… Such an exciting talent lost. My thoughts are with his family, friends and everyone involved in MotoGP. Motorsport can be so cruel…” Jenson Button

“R.I.P Marco A special talent that will be missed… Thinking of your loved ones, and all the motogp paddock..mark.” Mark Webber

“RIP Marco Simoncelli ! A great rider and all round nice guy. My thoughts are with all his family & friends. I will never forget today.” Cal Crutchlow

RIP: Marco Simoncelli. 20 January 1987 – 23 October 2011

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCfvLLuwqHs

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RIP Dan Wheldon – British IndyCar driver was a ‘true champion’

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BY JOHN GUBBA

How sad that it has taken the tragic death of British indyCar driver Dan Wheldon to force the sport to review its safety measures.

Wheldon, 33, was killed in a horrific 15-car pile up on lap 13 of Sunday’s Las Vegas Indy 300.

There were a number of concerns about track safety before the race began, with Formula 1 legend Jody Scheckter revealing that he has long wanted his son Tomas – who was also involved in the collision – to quit what he has described as “the most dangerous motorsport in the world” because of the speed and number of cars on the track.

Former F1 world champion Nigel Mansell – speaking on BBC Radio 5 live – agreed with Scheckter when he said: “In Indy racing there is simply nowhere to go. When an accident happens you are into the wall in a split second.”

Mansell said: “I heard Jody and he said it well. The smallest mistakes turn into catastrophic ones and Dan was on the receiving end of it.”

Formula 1’s biggest names have paid tribute to Wheldon, including 2008  world champion Lewis Hamilton who said: “Dan was a racer I’d followed throughout my career, as I often followed in his footsteps as we climbed the motorsport ladder in the UK. This is a tragic loss at such a young age.

“He was an extremely talented driver. As a British guy, who not only went over to the States but who twice won the Indy 500, he was an inspirational guy and someone that every racing driver looked up to with respect and admiration. My heart goes out to his family and friends during this extremely difficult time.”

 Dan Wheldon with wife Susie, holding son Oliver, and older son Sebastian

Dan Wheldon with wife Susie, holding son Oliver, and older son Sebastian

Hamilton’s McLaren team-mate Jenson Button, the 2009 F1 champion, said: “I have so many good memories of racing with Dan in the early 90s, a true fighter. We’ve lost a legend in our sport but also a great guy. I can’t begin to imagine what his family are going through and my thoughts are with them at this very difficult time.”

Wheldon’s father Clive said: “The family would like to thank everyone for their overwhelming outpouring of sympathy.

“Daniel was born to be a racer and left us doing what he loved to do.”

Wheldon’s father – speaking alongside the driver’s brothers Austen, 26, and Ashley, 30 – added: “He was a true champion and a gentleman on and off the track. Words cannot describe how much our family will miss him.

“He touched so many and the world is a better place because of Dan.

“He was a proud brother to Austen, Ashley, Elliott and Holly.

“He was a devoted son to Sue and myself and a loving husband to his wife.”

http://youtu.be/MMMHu8lnepM

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AWARD-WINNING FILM IS A GLORIOUS TRIBUTE TO AYRTON SENNA – THE GREATEST MOTOR RACING DRIVER OF ALL TIME

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The extraordinary new film ‘Senna’ – already hailed as one of the best sports films ever made

Ayrton Senna immortalised in epic movie

Ayrton Senna immortalised in epic movie

BY JOHN GUBBA

For those of us old enough to remember, 1st May 1994 was one of the saddest moments in world sport . . . it was the horrendous day when  AYRON SENNA, the greatest motor racing driver the world has ever seen, died at the San Marino Grand Prix in Imola.

Senna, a three-time Formula 1 world champion, and the most popular Brazilian sporting icon alongside football legend Pele, was just 34 when he tragically died in a shocking climax to one of the worst weekends in the history of sport.

Barrichello survives 1994 San Marino GP

Barrichello survives 1994 San Marino GP

 

It began on Friday when Senna’s compatriot and relative newcomer to the grid, Rubens Barrichello suffered a horrendous head-on crash with a tyre-wall during practice. He was lucky to survive. Two days later Senna was not.

Before the weekend was over both Senna and Roland Ratzenberger were taken from us. Ratzenberger died during qualifying. The unknown Austrian,  competing in only his third Formula One weekend, smashed into a concrete wall at 200mph and died instantly. Ratzenberger’s death marked the first fatality during a Formula One weekend in 12 years. It shook the San Marino paddock to it’s core.

But nothing could prepare the world for the loss of Senna, who had secured his 65th and final pole-position that day.  The Brazilian confided in his close friend, the head of Formula One’s medical team Professor Sid Watkins, that he was agonising with the idea of throwing in the towel.

Sadly, Senna deemed quitting a failure and he could not walk away. Armed with an Austrian flag to wave in Ratzenberger’s honour, we were  just six laps into the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix when Senna hit the wall – and a little more than five hours later the news filtered through that he was dead.

Today  – 17 years later – the much-heralded, award-winning movie – Senna – is released in UK cinemas and has already earned rave reviews. By focusing on Ayrton Senna’s thrilling rivalry with his arch-rival Alain Prost, Asif Kapadia’s movie-length documentary brilliantly captures the enigmatic spirit of a genuine sporting legend . . . and immortalises the Brazilian’s reputation as the greatest racing driver the world has ever seen.

1994 San Marino Grand Prix

1994 San Marino Grand Prix

MOTOR RACING documentary THE GHETTO KID

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QUEENS PARK RANGERS HAVE EARNED THEIR PREMIER LEAGUE PLACE –THE FA’S HANDLING OF THE FAURLIN AFFAIR IS A SCANDAL

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QPR deserve to return to the Premier League as champions

QPR deserve to return to the Premier League as champions

BY JOHN GUBBA

Only the English Football Association can make such a gigantic mess of an argument that began in September  – eight months ago – and a matter of weeks after the season kicked off.

Queens Park Rangers have been the stand-out team in the Championship all season and deserve to go up as champions. But the climax to the season has been reduced to farce because the FA still can’t decide whether or not to dock the Hoops points over transfer irregularities.

The FA –  due to announce tomorrow (Friday) if QPR are guilty of seven charges of breaking transfer laws over their £3.5million move for Alejandro Faurlin in 2009 – are set to postpone the decision until next week.

Are these guys for real? This is no way to govern our national sport.

To be heading into the final match of the season still not knowing whether or not the Hoops are going to be denied promotion to the Premier League and the trophy they won fair and square is quite simply a disgrace.

The Football Association has delayed its verdict in the row over the ownership of midfielder Faurlin due to the quantity of evidence being considered. But why on earth was this not dealt with months ago. And at the very least long before the season’s conclusion.

For the FA to decide QPR’s fate after Neil Warnock and his team celebrate their richly deserved Championship win with their home fans on the final day against Leeds on Sunday is wrong on every level.

A points deduction will almost certainly hand the title to Norwich City – and probably send Rangers into the play-offs. Cardiff or Swansea could be handed the second promotion spot. That would mean the competition’s top two prizes not being decided on the football pitch. Even then the argument will not be over because the FA will surely be taken to the courts.

You could not pick a fight on two bigger heavyweights than Formula 1 hotshots Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore who would be well within their rights to give the FA a good kicking via the legal system. Ecclestone, who owns 62 per cent, has  already put a £100 price tag on Rangers as a Premier League club. And this is not a guy who quits when he’s put in a corner.

Any betting man will put his money on the FA to back down on this one. But why on earth are we in this position in the first place?

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LEWIS HAMILTON’S THRILLING VICTORY IN CHINA PUTS FORMULA 1 BACK IN THE SPOTLIGHT

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Lewis Hamilton is back to his best

Lewis Hamilton is back to his best

BY JOHN GUBBA

Just when it looked like defending world champion Sebastian Vettel was going to turn the 2011 Formula 1 season into a procession with a hat-trick of wins up stepped Lewis Hamilton with one of the best drives of his career.

Hamilton’s thrilling victory in China pushed Vettel into second place and cuts the German’s lead in the overall standings to 21 points. But more importantly it sets up the season for what promises to be a fascinating battle between two great young champions and a supporting cast that includes their formidable team-mates – 2009 champion Jenson Button and Red Bull’s Mark Webber.

Formula 1 is sometimes too predictable and overshadowed by the sport’s politics to be taken seriously by a lot of sports fans. But the absorbing start to the new season and the return to prominence of Hamilton is just what Formula 1 needs. This could be one of the sport’s most exciting years ever.

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Who can stop Sebastian Vettel?