Mercedes' radical 'dual axis steering' system looks set to be banned from Formula One in the 2021 season.

The constructors' champions introduced the new technology - also known by his acronym 'DAS' - at this week's testing session in Barcelona.

Discussions over its eye-catching appearance and effect are set to continue into the 2020 campaign, with Mercedes looking to have developed a new tool to push the team even further forward at least in the short term.

World champion Lewis Hamilton was shown on his car's on-board camera to be adjusting his steering column in practice, pulling it towards him and pushing it away.

That was said to result in small changes to the toe angle of the wheels - their alignment when the steering is set straight - and Mercedes technical director James Allison has said DAS offers drivers "an extra dimension of control".

However, amid a slew of changes to Formula One's rules that will come into effect next year, there are defined restrictions on steering mechanisms.

The 2021 rules state: "The re-alignment of the steered wheels, as defined by the position of the inboard attachment of the relevant suspensions members that remain a fixed distance from each other, must be uniquely defined by a monotonic function of the rotational position of a single steering wheel."

The BBC reported on Friday that Michael Masi, race director of governing body the FIA, confirmed the rule amendment would affect DAS.

Masi is quoted as saying on the BBC Sport website: "We will see what teams can come up with within those boundaries of what the regulations are written for in 2021

Lewis Hamilton revealed he was yet to begin contract talks with Mercedes as the world champion focuses on preparations for the 2020 Formula One season.

The six-time world champion is out of contract at the end of this season, which begins in Australia next month.

But Hamilton, who has been linked with a move to Ferrari, is in no rush to open talks with Mercedes.

"We haven't sat down. I know Toto [Wolff, Mercedes team principal] is keen to, but right now the focus is on trying to make sure I am fit and ready for the season ahead as it ramps up," Hamilton said at pre-season testing on Thursday.

"You want to start on the front foot so it is not something I really get bogged down with at this period of time."

Hamilton has won five championships since joining Mercedes in 2013, including the past three to move within one of Michael Schumacher's record of seven.

The 35-year-old Brit said there would be more to talks than just the rest of his driving career.

"People talk about freedom as if it is a bad thing, but it is not at all. Mercedes have allowed me to be who I want to be rather than keep me constricted and ask me to speak a certain way or dress a certain way," Hamilton said.

"There were question marks over all the different things I do, but everyone can see the results I have had over the last two years. The flexibility helps me to be more engaged and an even better driver than I thought I could be.

"It is now about trying to figure out what the next five-to-10-year plan is, and how the decision I make now will impact the future.

"Does it allow me to put certain things in place so that, when I hang up my helmet, I am able to continue to pursue other interests? That will be in the small print of what we agree and what we will mostly be talking about."

World champion Lewis Hamilton showed ominous speed in his Mercedes on day one of testing for the new Formula One season in Barcelona.

The British driver led a Mercedes one-two on the time sheets as Valtteri Bottas was second quickest, while Ferrari's plans were hindered when Sebastian Vettel pulled out of the session through illness.

Hamilton came to Barcelona from Berlin, after being voted a world sportsman of the year at the Laureus Awards, and the six-time F1 drivers' championship winner was swiftly up to pace in the new W11 model.

He clocked a fastest lap of one minute and 16.976 seconds, which put him 0.377secs clear of Bottas and 0.399s ahead of Racing Point's Sergio Perez.

Another title this season would see 35-year-old Hamilton match German great Michael Schumacher's record haul of seven triumphs.

Charles Leclerc was down in 11th place for Ferrari but put in 131 laps in the new SF1000 car as the Monegasque driver went it alone for the Italian team, with Vettel sidelined.

Hamilton completed 94 laps in the afternoon, with Bottas notching up 79 in the morning, but their combined total of 173 laps for Mercedes was almost passed single-handedly by Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who achieved 168 circuits.

Verstappen span off the track twice during the afternoon. Alex Albon will take the wheel of the Red Bull on Thursday.

"It's been a good day and a really good start for all of us, considering we had a long break," said Hamilton. "So to come back and clock in over 170 laps just shows how hard everyone has been working over the winter.

"We will just take it one step at a time, getting good feedback from the car. We have a lot of data to download and analyse and we’ve got to keep pushing on."

The first race of the 2020 season takes place in Melbourne, with the Australian Grand Prix scheduled for March 15.

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi and Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton became the first joint-winners of the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year on Monday.

Messi and Hamilton were level on votes made by former sports legends who are members of the Laureus Academy.

Argentina international Messi inspired Barca to a 26th LaLiga title last season with 36 goals in 34 appearances, form that earned him a record sixth Ballon d'Or.

Mercedes driver Hamilton was crowned F1 world champion for the sixth time in 2019, putting him second only to Michael Schumacher on the all-time list.

Hamilton was in Berlin to collect his award in person, while Messi – the first individual from a team sport to claim the prize – sent a video message.

"I would like to thank the Academy for giving me this recognition. The truth is that this is a very important and special award," said Messi.

"I am honoured to be the first to win this award being a sportsperson coming from a team sport and not an individual sport, which is usually the case. Thank you very much.

"For me it's a huge delight to be part of this award and the first team player to receive it. Of course, I would like to thank my team-mates, my family and the fans who support me. Thanks to them this kind of individual recognition is possible."

The pair collected more votes than fellow contenders Rafael Nadal, Marc Marquez, Tiger Woods and Eliud Kipchoge. 

Gymnast Simone Biles was named Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year having become the most decorated gymnast in world championship history and helped the United States to a fifth team title.

Cross-country skier Oksana Masters was handed the World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability award.

South Africa men's rugby union side, who won the World Cup in 2019, were selected as the team of the year.

The other major winners were cyclist Egan Bernal (breakthrough), racing driver Sophia Florsch (comeback) and basketball player Dirk Nowitzki (lifetime achievement award).

Lionel Messi and Liverpool are among the front-runners for prizes at the prestigious Laureus World Sports Awards in Berlin on Monday.

Liverpool are up for two gongs after a wonderful year, as they won the 2018-19 Champions League and took a massive leap towards a first top-flight title in 30 years.

Jurgen Klopp's side look set to break a host of records this season, as they have dropped points in just one of their 25 matches and hold a remarkable 22-point lead over defending champions Manchester City in second.

The Reds are in the running for two prizes in the Laureus Sports Awards' 20th anniversary gala – World Team of the Year and Comeback of the Year, the latter on account of their astonishing Champions League semi-final turnaround at the expense of Barcelona.

Among those challenging Liverpool for the former are the United States' Women's football team and the Toronto Raptors, who became the first Canadian franchise win an NBA championship.

A selection of sporting superstars are up for the Sportsman of the Year award, with Barcelona and Argentina icon Lionel Messi among them following his record-breaking sixth Ballon d'Or.

Also in the running is Eliud Kipchoge after the Kenyan became the first athlete to run a marathon in under two hours last October, covering the 26.2 miles in one hour, 59 minutes and 40.2 seconds in Vienna.

Ballon d'Or Feminin winner Megan Rapinoe is among those in the hunt for the Sportswoman of the Year gong, although gymnast Simone Biles also has a compelling case.

The 22-year-old last year won five gold medals at the World Championships to become the most decorated gymnast in the event's history, and has won this award twice before, in 2019 and 2017.

The event will take place at the Verti Music Hall in Berlin on Monday. Below is a complete list of the awards up for grabs and the athletes nominated.

Sportsman of the Year

Eliud Kipchoge – Athletics
Lewis Hamilton – Formula One
Lionel Messi – Football
Marc Marquez – MotoGP
Rafael Nadal – Tennis
Tiger Woods – Golf

Sportswoman of the Year

Allyson Felix – Athletics
Megan Rapinoe – Football
Mikaela Shiffrin – Skiing
Naomi Osaka – Tennis
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce – Athletics
Simone Biles – Gymnastics

 

Team of the Year

Liverpool – Football
Mercedes-AMG – Formula One
South Africa – Rugby Union
Spain – Basketball
Toronto Raptors – Basketball
United States Women – Football

Breakthrough of the Year

Andy Ruiz – Boxing
Bianca Andreescu – Tennis
Coco Gauff – Tennis
Egan Bernal – Cycling
Japan – Rugby Union
Regan Smith – Swimming

 

Comeback of the Year

Andy Murray – Tennis
Christian Lealiifano – Rugby Union
Kawhi Leonard – Basketball
Liverpool – Football
Nathan Adrian – Swimming
Sophia Florsch – Formula Three

Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability

Alice Tai – Swimming
Diede de Groot – Wheelchair Tennis
Jetze Plat – Triathlon
Manuela Schar – Wheelchair Racing
Oksana Masters – Cross Country Skiing
Omara Durand – Athletics

 

Action Sportsperson of the year

Carissa Moore – Surfing
Chloe Kim – Snowboarding
Italo Ferreira – Surfing
Mark McMorris – Snowboarding
Nyjah Huston – Skateboarding
Rayssa Leal – Skateboarding

Lewis Hamilton has been backed to match Michael Schumacher's record of seven Formula One world titles in the 2020 season by David Coulthard.

Hamilton has won three consecutive F1 drivers' championships to move on to six overall, just one behind Ferrari great Schumacher.

He goes into a new campaign as the favourite to come out on top once again and fellow Briton Coulthard, a 13-time race winner in his career, sees little reason to doubt him.

"It's certainly on the cards, isn't it?" Coulthard told Omnisport about the prospect of Hamilton moving level with Schumacher's landmark.

"Lewis Hamilton is an exceptional driver, he's a great asset for Mercedes. He's had an exceptional run of grand prix championships. He's got the skills, he's got a great team.

"There's no reason why he wouldn't be able to do that and I think actually with records being there to be broken, it would be great if he was able to equal Michael."

Comparing the two drivers, Coulthard added: "They have two different styles and two different ways of achieving their success.

"Michael was kind of ruthless in his approach, a little bit more like Ayrton Senna in that respect. Absolutely prepared to bang wheels and do whatever was necessary to get the victory, combined with a very high skill level, speed and commitment.

"Lewis is more considered and measured in his wheel-to-wheel combat. He has very good spatial awareness when it comes to racing wheel-to-wheel and very rarely gets involved in incidents."

With his contract due to expire after 2020, Hamilton has been heavily linked with a move to Ferrari, but Mercedes' optimism about keeping him appears to have grown with the new season approaching.

And Coulthard does not believe it would make much sense for Hamilton to move on in 2021, by which point he will have turned 36.

"If he wants to be in Formula One, I expect him to be at Mercedes, but he doesn't have to make a decision right now," Coulthard said.

"I don't see a logical other opportunity for him at this stage of his career. Therefore, if and when he decides he's continuing, I'm sure it will be at Mercedes."

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admits he is not looking forward to new contract discussions with Lewis Hamilton because of their close relationship.

Formula One champion Hamilton, who will target a record-equalling seventh title in 2020, is in the final 12 months of his existing deal.

Most signs point to him staying beyond the new season, despite Hamilton reportedly chasing a hefty pay rise.

He is said to be looking for an increase of around 50 per cent on what is reputed to be a £40million annual salary.

Team principal Wolff said: "The dynamic is very good, we've known each other for such a long time and have the greatest respect for each other.

"Lewis is very aware of where we are as a team and where we are as a motor company.

"Overall, these discussions, we don't like them because we are friends and very close to each other on this joint journey, but it's part of the job."

Wolff said Hamilton and Mercedes will both have ideas about the driver's value.

Hamilton has been linked with Ferrari in the past, but the Italian team have said they are focused on keeping the partnership of Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc for the foreseeable future.

Ahead of the contract talks, Hamilton was quick to praise Wolff's influence, telling Sky Sports: "He's an incredible businessman. I learnt a lot from this man and it's always an exciting moment - it's a real privilege that they want me to stay and be part of a great team, that's a great feeling.

"I hope I can continue to help contribute to the team's success."

The team's new car - officially titled the Mercedes-AMG F1 W11 EQ Performance - was revealed on Friday at Silverstone.

Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas had the opportunity to take to the track, with the Brit describing the car, which includes a host of technical updates to the 2019 edition, as "a new piece of art".

There are changes to impact tubes, suspension and its aerodynamic make-up feature, and Bottas is optimistic he can challenge for the title.

While Hamilton is chasing Michael Schumacher's haul of seven titles, Bottas wants a first, and last year's second-placed finish in the championship fills him with optimism.

Bottas told Sky Sports: "I have no doubt Lewis will want to win the championship again and break records, but I need to focus on my own thing.

"Last year was really encouraging because I managed to improve lots of my weaknesses.

"I have good confidence; I know I can do it. It's for me to be at my best level, keep improving and keep learning. It's so good to start at zero again and see what happens."

Sebastian Vettel is still Ferrari's first choice despite rumours linking Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton with a Formula One switch, according to team boss Mattia Binotto.

Vettel – who is out of contract at the end of 2020 – was outperformed by Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc as Hamilton claimed a sixth F1 world championship last year.

Hamilton is also entering the final year of his deal with Mercedes amid ongoing speculation but Binotto talked up Vettel.

"Seb is our first choice at the moment," said Binotto on Tuesday as Ferrari unveiled their car for the 2020 season.

"Obviously it is something we are discussing with him and we will continue discussing, but he is certainly our first option, our preference."

Vettel – a four-time world champion – could only manage fifth position in last season's championship, behind winner Hamilton and adrift of fourth-placed team-mate Leclerc.

Asked if Hamilton could be a fall-back option if Vettel moves on, Binotto added: "We are focused on our drivers - and we are considering Seb as our option at the moment."

Mercedes will resume contract discussions with Lewis Hamilton once they have "properly kicked off" the 2020 Formula One season.

Hamilton is entering the final year of his deal with the Silver Arrows, with whom he has won five of his six world titles.

Ferrari have been linked with a move for Hamilton, who can equal Scuderia legend Michael Schumacher's record tally of seven drivers' championships with victory in 2020.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, however, is hopeful Hamilton's extremely profitable spell with the constructor can be extended.

"It is the obvious pairing going forward," said Wolff, speaking to the media at the announcement of Mercedes' five-year partnership with INEOS.

"We would like to have the fastest man in the fastest car and I know Lewis wants to be in the fastest car.

"We travel around the world almost 10 months every year and get on each other's nerves every second weekend.

"And what we do over the winter is we leave each other in peace.

"The last conversation I had with him was the evening before the Christmas party where we had a nice chat and [agreed] we would continue our discussion once he comes back from America and we have properly kicked off the season.

"I have great belief in the ability of the team to attract the best drivers and at the moment he has proven he is the best current driver with his six titles.

"In the medium to long term I would hope that we would be able to continue to provide the technology to the best drivers and attract them."

Lewis Hamilton feels in great shape to launch his bid for a record-equalling seventh Formula One world title and says he has rekindled his close relationship with dad Anthony.

Ahead of the new season starting in Australia next month, Hamilton has been training hard to ensure he is among the fittest drivers on the grid.

He is one short of Michael Schumacher's record haul of championship triumphs after winning five of the last six drivers' titles.

Hamilton posted pictures on Instagram of himself training in Singapore on Thursday, and the 35-year-old said he was closing in on the physique that will ensure he starts the campaign at a physical peak.

"This has been one of the best winters I've had training," Hamilton wrote.

"Last year I arrived into testing with a lot of water weight and around 78kg. This year, I'm at a better weight of 73kg. Still have more fat to burn off and more muscle to add but on the way. Consistency is key! If you are wanting to get in shape, you can do it. Just depends how much you want it. Let’s go guys."

Hamilton has found time to rebuild a family bond too, since wrapping up the 2019 championship, saying spending time with his father has highlighted how both men became "so immersed in the drive to succeed that we lost sight of what was most important, our relationship".

Anthony Hamilton was a key figure in his son's career, but their close connection began to show cracks early in Lewis' Formula One career.

Lewis Hamilton employed his father as his manager until that working relationship fractured in 2010, with the new star of world motor racing deciding he needed a change.

There have been fond reconciliations since, and now Hamilton is determined to re-establish the powerful father-son dynamic that helped him scale the heights of his sport.

"Our journey hasn't been an easy one, we've faced so many obstacles as individuals but also as a family," the Mercedes star wrote.

"My dad and I haven't had the easiest of relationships. He worked so hard to create an opportunity for us as a family and because of him I am where I am today.

"In the search for success, with all the pressure it put on us all, we were so immersed in the drive to succeed that we lost sight of what was most important, our relationship.

"Over time, we lost that father son bond and it has been something we have both wanted back for so long.

"The past couple years we've been growing closer and this winter break I asked my dad to come visit me so we could spend some time together, just us.

"We hadn't done this before so to finally get to spend quality time with him has brought me so much happiness. I just wanted to share this with you.

"Family is the most important thing in the world. You can’t choose your family but you can make it work with them no matter your differences, they are the ones that will be there when you have nothing. Sending everyone positivity and love."

Max Verstappen declared Lewis Hamilton is "very good, but not God" and hopes Red Bull can provide him with a car capable of ending the Brit's dominance this year.

Hamilton eased to a sixth Formula One title last year - and a fifth in the last six seasons - with Valtteri Bottas making it a Mercedes one-two.

Verstappen finished third in the driver standings, 135 points adrift of Hamilton after winning three races in 2019.

The Dutchman rates Hamilton highly, but says he is not invincible.

"Lewis is very good, he is definitely one of the best, but he is not God," the Dutchman said at a Red Bull media event in London.

"Maybe God is with him but he's not God."

Verstappen is optimistic Red Bull can be more of a threat this season but knows only time will tell if they are capable of mounting a serious challenge.

"I think last year already it was good, especially in a transition year like we had, it was very promising," he said.

"We really want to mount a challenge to especially Mercedes and I think we can do that.

"Of course we have to wait and see from testing, but I'm very much looking forward to it. Everybody's fired up. Everybody's very motivated, especially also coming off last year in the end. We were very competitive.

"We knew where we had to work on but you cannot solve that within two, three weekends, so because we tried a few things to learn and understand for this year, we are working in the right direction.

"But of course now it's also up to us to develop more than Mercedes and Ferrari during the winter. We have to start strong from the very first race, we have to be there."

Lewis Hamilton has pledged to donate $500,000 to support wildlife rescue charities and Australian fire services as the country's bushfire crisis continues.

Bushfires have swept through large regions of Australia in recent weeks, causing widespread devastation.

Over one billion animals are estimated to have been killed, while thousands of people have lost their homes and livelihoods. 

Sportsmen and women from across the globe have already offered their support in an attempt to assist those affected, with Australia cricket great Shane Warne auctioning off his baggy green cap, while Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams and Roger Federer are among the tennis stars who will participate in a pre-Australian Open exhibition match to raise funds.

Formula One world champion Hamilton has now promised to assist the cause.

Hamilton posted a video of a couple rescuing a Koala to his official Instagram account, alongside the caption: "It saddens me deeply to know that over one billion animals in Australia died a painful death, no way out, not their fault.

"My love of animals is no secret and I can't help but grieve for the defenceless animals thought to have died so far, pushing certain species closer to extinction.

"I'm lucky enough to visit Australia often and I know first-hand how beautiful the country is. Keep fighting Australia. I've spent some time speaking to people in Australia who are working at the heart of this and I'm filled with admiration for everything they are doing.

"I implore you to join me in thinking about the impact we are having on our planet. Let's work together to make small changes, and encourage our family and friends to do the same, so we can help shift the direction we're going in.

"I'm donating $500K to support @wireswildliferescue @wwf_australia and the Rural Fire Services. If you are able and haven't already, you can donate too."

Lewis Hamilton should be rewarded for winning his sixth Formula One world championship by receiving a knighthood in the New Year Honours, says the head of Motorsport UK.

Hamilton cruised to a third successive title in 2019 and is now just one shy of Michael Schumacher's all-time record of seven championships.

The 34-year-old was awarded an OBE in 2008, following his maiden championship triumph, but David Richards, the head of British motor racing's governing body, believes it would be an oversight if Hamilton does not receive a higher honour this time.

Labour peer Lord Peter Hain has written to UK prime minister Boris Johnson to declare his support for Hamilton to receive a knighthood, and Richards insists the Mercedes driver is worthy of the title.

"Naturally as the governing body of motorsport in the UK we wholeheartedly support Peter Hain," Richards told the Guardian.

"I can't think of anyone more worthy of that recognition than Lewis. It would be a major oversight if that is not recognised in the New Year Honours.

"Lewis is far more remarkable in that he did not come from a privileged background. He and his father worked incredibly hard to get into karting and up the steps of the ladder.

"It was sheer hard graft, not gifted to him on a plate. They made huge sacrifices and that makes his achievements even more extraordinary.

"He is a role model for underprivileged children in the UK to show them that anything is possible. I hope he uses that to help and leave a legacy for other kids to show their ambitions are achievable."

Sebastian Vettel may have just five races to secure his Ferrari future next season as the team plan to assess his "performance and motivation" before making a May decision.

Charles Leclerc finished ahead of the four-time world champion in his first year with Ferrari, the youngster winning two races and claiming seven pole positions the 2019 Formula One season.

That compared to two poles and one win for Vettel, who finished fifth in the drivers' championship.

Vettel is under pressure heading into 2020, the last year of his current contract, especially with speculation swirling over whether six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton will choose to join Ferrari.

Max Verstappen, Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo are other top drivers due to be out of contract in 2021, which is when F1's new technical regulations come into force.

And while he may not have intended to, Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto added fuel to the speculation by saying Vettel will be monitored closely with a view to making a swift decision on his 2021 driver line-up.

"By the beginning of May, roughly around the race in Spain, we want to know where the journey will go in 2021," Binotto told reporters.

"I think that with Seb we need to sit down to discuss ways we set to understand his intentions for the future.

"We need to see as well the performance and how he does fit with the car and his motivation for the future.

"So, it's not about his mistakes or not. It's really a matter of how he sees himself as far as his future and how we see our line-up. We need to see our strategy developing next year."

But Binotto also pointed out Vettel, 32, remains an important and respected part of Ferrari's plans.

"Seb is a key driver for us - he is central to our project," added Binotto. "He's part of the team now since many years. He knows the team very well.

"He's got a lot of experience. He has been four times world champion. So, there is no doubt that such a driver is key for our project."

Ferrari CEO Louis Camilleri, meanwhile, felt it was inevitable that the form of Leclerc would cause some strain on Vettel. 

The two drivers hit each other to cause a double Ferrari retirement at the Brazilian Grand Prix last month.

"Charles' performance has obviously had an impact," Camilleri said. "It's inevitable that when you're the world champion, this young kid comes on and has phenomenal season.

"You should know that behind closed doors they actually get on very well. There's great respect between them. They joke together and there's quite a great relationship. 

"Clearly, they're both very competitive and Brazil was a nightmare. However, now the air has been cleared. 

"You sometimes need a crisis to put the goalposts in the appropriate place.

"I actually think, going forward, it gives Mattia a much better way of managing them, but also renders them significantly more receptive because they realise how they screwed up."

Binotto confirmed earlier this month there would be no Ferrari number one next season, with the two drivers starting as "equals".

Louis Camilleri confirmed Ferrari chairman John Elkann has spoken to Lewis Hamilton, though insisted those discussions have been "blown somewhat out of proportion".

Six-time Formula One champion Hamilton expressed his love for Mercedes after ending another glorious season by winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but said he is open to considering his future for 2021.

Hamilton's Silver Arrows contract is due to expire at the end of the 2020 campaign and there has been further speculation over a switch to the Scuderia in 2021.

Ferrari chief executive Camilleri confirmed Elkann held discussions with the reigning champion, yet added that does not mean he will be joining the Italian team.

Speaking at Ferrari's Christmas media lunch, Camilleri said: "Obviously, it was a social event, which has sort of been blown somewhat out of proportion, but it was a social event. They have some common friends."

Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari deal is set to end next year, but Camilleri says there is no rush to make a decision on their line-up for 2021.

"The fact is we have a long-term agreement with one driver [Charles Leclerc] and with the other driver the agreement expires at the end of 2020," he said.

"We clearly are very flattered that Lewis, in particular, and other drivers want to come and join us, but it would be premature to decide anything today.

"It would be premature to decide anything now for the future."

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