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Vettel is F1 World Champ for third time

Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel is the youngest-ever Formula One triple-champion after finishing sixth the rain-interrupted Brazilian Grand Prix.

It was a curious season with seven different winners in the first seven races. For a time Lewis Hamilton shone and threatened to take the title, before announcing his departure from the McLaren team next season to go to the less than scintillating Mercedes outfit.

Sebastian Vettel only broke clear of the championship pack late in September with his win in Singapore.

In the end Vettel took Spain’s Fernando Alonso by three points, after an early crash and a long, brilliant drive through the pack to pip Alonso who also had trouble in the wet conditions.

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Lewis Hamilton moves to Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton has signed the deal that will take him from McClaren to Mercedes, replacing Michael Schumacher who has disappointed in his comeback spell with the German firm.

Hamilton, the world champion driver who joined McClaren as a 13-year-old karter, has recently found life with the team rather suffocating and yearned for pastures new. He will team up with old-time karting friend Nico Rosburg.

He will make the move next season on a 3-year deal worth up to £60 million.The team captain Martin Whitmarsh, believes Lewis has made a big mistake and will not find success as he has at McLaren. “I have faith and belief in this team,” he said, “Whether you measure it over the last four races, four years or 40 years, we’re a fantastic team.”

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Honda pulls out of Formula One

Monte Carlo The shock news that Honda is to pull its team out of Formula One is still reverberating around the sport of motor racing.

Honda’s F1 executives, Ross Brawn and Nick Fry, are seeking new owners for the British-based team before the 700 workers receive their redundancy notices. Honda has just announced it will give the management up to three months to find a buyer.

Meanwhile motor racing’s ruling body, FIA, will host an annual dinner in Monaco on Friday to discuss the crisis and, almost as an afterthought it seems, Lewis Hamilton will be presented with his first World Drivers’ Championship regalia.

McLaren co-owner Ron Dennis said: “We know we have to reduce our costs to cater for the inevitable downturn in income that is coming in 2010 and 2011. We predict that our turnover will drop to as low as £175 million a year. Our budget comes from the advertising budgets of the companies that support us, and inevitably advertising budgets get slashed or, at least are significantly trimmed in times of economic strife.”

FIA president Max Mosley said: “The FIA would join with FOTA (Formula One Teams Association) in seeking to persuade FOM (Formula One Management) to divide the prize money so that up to 12 teams are guaranteed at least $50 million (£34 million) each. This would ensure a full grid with a strong possibility that new teams will enter the championship, filling vacancies.”

The developing economic depression will not leave many unscathed, including the wealthiest of operators.

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Lewis Hamilton World Champion at last

The headlines say it all: “Can Hamilton become new Muhammad Ali?”, “Can Hamilton be as good as Schumacher?” Both in the upmarket Times.

Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton wins Formula One World Championship

Then it’s back down to earth with a bump: “Cheers and boos for Lewis Hamilton, Britain’s new Formula One champion.” The Times again.

What about a totally positive headline? “A relaxed, funny and balanced champion. Ed Gorman wonders how anyone could dislike Lewis.” Er… also The Times.

Any naysayers here? “He is on top of the world but ‘aloof’ Hamilton is still struggling to win over large sections of the sporting public.” You’ve guessed it: The Times, and all on the same day.

Lewis Hamilton, the youngest Formula One world champion ever, certainly seems to have an image problem. His fellow drivers all but accuse him of being a danger to their lives. Spanish F1 fans spit racist remarks on websites and trackside.

And, yet, Hamilton is set to earn more money than any other sportsman in history — and that includes Tiger Woods.

The race itself was a classic. Hamilton went in seven points ahead, and had to finish at least in fifth place if Felipe Massa won.

Massa was in pole position, while Hamilton was fourth on the grid, his horizons closing in on him.

The Brazilian duly went on to win on his home track. However, disaster struck for Lewis Hamilton when he was relegated to sixth position near the end and all seemed lost.

The Brit stuck to his guns, though, and didn’t give up. On the very last bend he attempted a stabbing overtaking move and finished fifth.

The Ferrari team were already celebrating their man’s victory when the news of Hamilton’s heroics hit them.

The rest is history.

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