Joan Mir to sit out again at British MotoGP

By Sports Desk August 20, 2019

Joan Mir will not return to action at the British Grand Prix, with test rider Sylvain Guintoli taking his place, Team Suzuki Ecstar have confirmed.

Mir missed the Austrian Grand Prix following a crash in testing that left him with a pulmonary contusion.

The Spaniard had been expected to return to MotoGP at Silverstone, yet he has not made a full recovery and, with his training also limited, his team announced via a statement Mir will sit out.

"In the end, I am not able to be in Silverstone for the next race and it is a real pity," Mir said. "But that's how things are, and the first priority has to be my health.

"After the accident, I spent several weeks resting, first in the hospital and then at home.

"I have started to walk but, after the tests, it seems that I am still not 100 per cent, so the doctors have determined that it is better to continue with my rehabilitation."

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    Valtteri Bottas insists he has what it takes to beat Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who is celebrating a sixth Formula One world title.

    Mercedes, who have won a record six consecutive drivers' and constructors' title doubles, are expected to be front-runners again in 2020.

    That is the last year before new technical regulations come in for 2021, and Bottas, having finished behind Hamilton in all three of his seasons with the German manufacturer, is eager to pose a more consistent challenge to the Briton.

    Bottas finished 87 points behind Hamilton this year but feels the four race wins and five pole positions he earned over the season proved he has what it takes.

    "For 2020, there are no major regulation changes in Formula One so that means I think it will be even closer competition with many teams," Bottas said in quotes to Sky Sports at a PETRONAS event to celebrate the team's 2019 campaign.

    "Other teams, drivers, will play a part in the fight as well but obviously Lewis always is a difficult driver to beat. 

    "But I've been able to do it at times so I know I can do it."

    The grid could have a very different look to by the time 2021 arrives, not least because Hamilton has been linked with a stunning move to Ferrari.

    Now only one win away from Michael Schumacher's record of seven drivers' titles, Hamilton stressed it is key to appreciate the successes already achieved rather than look too far ahead.

    "It's really, really important always to just be grateful for what I have at the moment," he said.

    "Of course, we'll be in search for another championship, but in this sport you never know when that could be.

    "It could be next year, it could be years. Some people don't even have one, so it's really important to be grateful for what we have."

    Of the challenge ahead of him in 2020, Hamilton added: "Next year I think will be similar to this year. 

    "However, I think the competition is probably going to step up. You have seen this year McLaren have picked up, Red Bull have picked up their pace, you have seen some more teams are coming into the spot. 

    "It's a little bit easier to chase than it is to lead."

  • The 2019 F1 season in Opta numbers as Hamilton reigns again The 2019 F1 season in Opta numbers as Hamilton reigns again

    The 2019 Formula One season ended on Sunday with a familiar sight, Lewis Hamilton on a podium's top step.

    Hamilton won his sixth world title this year, emerging victorious in 11 of the 21 races, including in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit.

    It was also a fine campaign for Mercedes, who took the constructors' championship, with Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas finishing second in the final drivers' standings.

    Here, with the help of Opta, we take a look at the numbers behind the 2019 campaign.

     

    10 - Hamilton became the first driver to win world titles with a span of more than 10 years. His first championship came in 2008 when he was driving for McLaren.

    11 - With 11 race wins, Hamilton enjoyed his joint-best year having also taken the chequered flag that many times in 2014 and 2018.

    19 - The world champion has now led from start to finish in 19 grands prix, the joint most of any driver in F1 along with Ayrton Senna.

    17 - Hamilton had a place on the podium in 17 races in 2019.

    13 - The Briton has recorded at least one pole position in each of the last 13 seasons (2007 to 2019), the joint-longest run in F1 history after Michael Schumacher's streak between 1994 and 2006.

    61 - Hamilton has recorded 61 pole positions for Mercedes, more than any other driver for a single F1 team.

    146 - In 146 grands prix, Hamilton has held the lead, more than any other driver in F1 history.

    3 - Red Bull's Max Verstappen enjoyed his best year to date, winning three races across the calendar.

    22 - It was a more challenging year for Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, who went 22 successive races between the Italian Grand Prix in 2018 and Singapore Grand Prix in 2019 without a victory - the worst run of his F1 career.

    6 - Mercedes equalled Ferrari (1999-2004) as the team to have won the most successive constructors' titles.

  • Lewis Hamilton: F1 world champion can complete legacy with daring Ferrari move Lewis Hamilton: F1 world champion can complete legacy with daring Ferrari move

    As Lewis Hamilton cruised to victory in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, it would be fair to wonder why he would ever contemplate the prospect of racing for a new team.

    The Mercedes driver led from start to finish, recorded the fastest lap and won by a gap of over 16 seconds to Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

    It was his 11th victory of 2019, matching his personal best total in a season, and was a win that came with his sixth Formula One drivers' title long since secured.

    The final gap in the title race was a massive 87 points over team-mate Valtteri Bottas, with Verstappen, the closest driver from an opposing team, ending up out of sight at 135 adrift.

    Mercedes made an emphatic start with eight straight wins and while they were challenged by Ferrari and Red Bull in the middle of the campaign, they recovered to win five of the last six.

    Hamilton was in a class of his own on race days, especially considering the pole he claimed at Yas Marina Circuit – a traditionally strong track for Mercedes – was his first in 10 races.

    He goes into 2020, the final year of his current contract, as the clear favourite to triumph once more, with Michael Schumacher's record of seven titles now tantalisingly close.

    Hamilton is loved by Mercedes, has the best car and a team-mate in Bottas who, unlike his spell alongside Nico Rosberg, has steered clear of controversy and would struggle to beat him over a 22-race slate.

    Why then is the possibility of a move to Ferrari in 2021 even on the agenda? The next contract Hamilton signs could be his last and it is one that may prove legacy defining.

    He is 34 but eager to continue for a few seasons yet, leading the sport into its new era of technical regulations, which come into play the year after next.

    Hamilton's talent and achievements have not always been properly appreciated, nor his mental strength and competitiveness that often lifts him above rivals.

    He has been booed by Ferrari supporters, while his personality has not always proved endearing to prospective admirers.

    Earlier this year, Toto Wolff expressed his surprise that Hamilton is not more revered in his home country, the United Kingdom, in comparison to other sporting greats.

    It is one of many factors that must make joining Ferrari, the sport's most popular team, tempting.

    Ahead of the season-ending race in Abu Dhabi, Mattia Binotto openly discussed his happiness at the possible availability of Hamilton.

    Hamilton has repeatedly said he wants to see what close confidant Wolff does before deciding on his own future and explained after Sunday's win he would think about his options.

    Asked about rumours he met with Ferrari president John Elkann, Hamilton said: "Everything that happens behind closed doors is obviously always private.

    "But I think for many, many years, I've never, ever sat down and considered other options, because we've been just driving straight ahead into the path and journey that we've been on.

    "It's only smart and wise for me to sit and think of what I want if it is the last period in my career. I want to keep winning and being able to fight with these guys. I can't really tell you what else is going to happen moving forwards."

    With Sebastian Vettel's performances showing signs of decline it is Charles Leclerc, Ferrari's rising star, who would likely be Hamilton's team-mate. 

    Leclerc said after the race he would welcome the challenge of having Hamilton in the same team, a move which could mean Verstappen – the other man set to lead F1's next generation – could fulfil his mooted move to Mercedes as their new number one.

    Verstappen could alternatively continue to lead Red Bull if they show sufficient progress next year, but either way the 2021 grid would be a fascinating picture, with Alex Albon, Lando Norris and George Russell the other young stars in the mix for top drives.

    It remains the most likely scenario that Hamilton remains with Mercedes and helps them to extend their unprecedented run of six consecutive driver and constructor doubles. He added to his comments on Ferrari by saying he still loves life with the team.

    It would undoubtedly be a risk to leave that comfort and winning culture to join Ferrari, who have not produced a drivers' title since 2007, while pitting himself directly against rising star Leclerc.

    But Hamilton must ponder how complete his career would be if he joins and wins with Ferrari.

    The Briton has openly wondered how it would feel to have the Ferrari faithful roaring him on at Monza and ending the Scuderia's title drought would see his popularity rocket.

    He timed his difficult decision to leave McLaren well in 2013 and another opportunity now presents itself.

    Hamilton could end his career having seen off a daunting team-mate in Leclerc, surpassed Schumacher's now attainable records of world titles and race wins while winning the championship with a third different team.

    If he does that, he would have a compelling case to stand clear of Ayrton Senna and Schumacher to be considered as the greatest driver of all time.

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