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Lewis Hamilton: Why Mercedes F1 driver is right to consider extending career – and the key factors ahead

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Lewis Hamilton has previously admitted he has given retirement serious consideration for several years. But each time, he has renewed.

However, during his recent Vanity Fair interview, he turned it around, saying: “I’ll be lying if I said that I hadn’t thought about extending.” As if the default assumption is now that he will retire at the end of his current contract – which runs to the end of 2023 – but that he’s considering not doing so. It’s a subtly different position.

Fernando Alonso has this year shown the folly of the previous widely-held assumption that race drivers’ performances will invariably tail off physically if they keep going to their late 30s/early 40s. It was always nonsense.

With some exceptions, it’s invariably depleted motivation after the long years of slog which can begin to diminish the inner desire to push as hard as the young charger looking to make their name. Alonso remains hugely motivated, as does Hamilton, four years Alonso’s junior.

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If he can retain that inner desire there is no reason he will not be able to access his extraordinary skills as effectively as ever for years to come.

Hamilton has a keen sense of the narrative of his own career history. He sees it in very personal terms as a triumph against adversity. His whole career has indeed been a truly magnificent triumph against so many initial obstacles; a Black kid from a council estate is not the usual starting point of an F1 career.

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Even if he had retired 10 years ago with just his one McLaren world title and never sat in a dominant Mercedes, he would still be one of the true greats of the sport; one of the greatest drivers F1 has ever seen. But beyond just his level as a driver, his stature as a sporting icon – in terms of the inspiration to Black culture his success represents, the opening up of the sport to a huge previously uninterested, unengaged section of the population – makes him possibly the greatest of all.

That stature has only been emphasised by the record-breaking success achieved after switching to Mercedes. The stature he had already attained within the sport – his reputation purely as a driver – before that switch, would come to be matched or even exceeded by the statistics made possible by that move.

The events of Abu Dhabi 2021 – when on the cusp of what would have been an unprecedented eighth world title, misapplication of the sporting regulations saw him denied – still sit heavily upon him, as he confirmed in the recent interview. That this should be followed up by his first uncompetitive car in 13 years – preventing him from ‘doing the talking on track’ as he likes to put it – will likely only be storing up that inner desire and motivation.

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Will key F1 regulation change have say on Hamilton’s future?
That’s the Hamilton backdrop to Mercedes’ progress since the beginning of the season and its prospects for the remainder of it.

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There has been a lot of progress from the wildly porpoising W13 of the early season which was often one second or more off the pace of Ferrari and Red Bull. With quite a different upper body aero concept to those cars, its greater area of exposed floor was effectively a cantilever, making it much more difficult to control. Later, limitations in the mechanical aspects of the suspension became apparent in controlling the car’s ride.

It then became clear Ferrari and Red Bull had interpreted the regulations concerning the mounting of the underfloor plank differently and were able to allow the plank to sink further into the floor as it touched the ground, giving a cushioning effect to the ride.

From Spa this weekend, that interpretation will no longer be considered valid. If, as is believed by other teams, that mounting method would make a 5-6mm lower rear ride height feasible, it would potentially be worth around 0.2-0.3s of lap time. The Mercedes, even though it set pole in Hungary due to a favourable set of circumstances (no healthy Red Bulls in Q3, Ferrari way out of the tyre temperature window), was still around 0.5s off the ultimate pace.

So the Spa TD could well help Mercedes reduce its deficit to the front, but to take on Ferrari and Red Bull on equal terms is likely going to require more development. But the Spa TD should at least put Hamilton and George Russell in position to apply pressure to those teams. It puts them in the ballpark – and from there anything is possible.

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But of more interest to Hamilton and the team will be what these lessons mean for next year’s car. The outcome of that process and its implications upon Hamilton’s ability to fight for wins and titles once more after being doubly thwarted (once in Abu Dhabi ’21, once by this year’s car) are surely all the motivation he needs to give him access to his full ability and demonstrate to the world that he is not beaten.

Only with that achieved might he feel in a position to make a call on whether to extend or stop.

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Voodoo new to me – Waldrum

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In the aftermath of the drama that ensued between Nigeria and Cameroon during the penultimate qualifying fixture for the 2024 Olympic games, Super Falcons coach, Randy Waldrum, says voodoo is strange to him.

There was drama at the start of the second half inside the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja on Monday after a Cameroonian player allegedly attempted to plant ‘voodoo’ inside the Falcons goal post.

Falcons’ goalkeeper, Chiamaka Nnadozie, was in fine form as she stopped every shot in her direction to prevent the Indomitable Lionesses from scoring.

However, in the closing minutes of the game, Cameroon sent Annie Enganemben on as they were about to launch a free kick into the Nigerian box with claims that the player was sent on to touch the net in a bid to give Cameroon a saving grace as they were running out of options, and had to resort to diabolical means.

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In a video, the substitute, alongside another striker, were seen trying to run towards the Nigerian goal in an attempt to touch the net, but Asisat Oshoala took it upon herself to prevent that from happening. The drama led to the player being sent off after she hit Nnadozie in the process.

When asked by our reporter about the attempt by the Cameroonians to use voodoo during the game, Waldrum said, “Yes it is true.”

“I have never seen it before but our players wouldn’t let them in our goal to use it.”

The only goal of the two-legged tie came in the early minutes of the first half, with Esther Okoronkwo tapping home from close range after Jennifer Echegini’s clever footwork on the edge of the box.

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Liverpool Win Carabao Cup Title With Late Heroics Thrilling Against Chelsea

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In a thrilling Carabao Cup final clash at Wembley Stadium, Liverpool emerged victorious with late heroics against Chelsea, clinching the coveted title in dramatic fashiion.

The match, highly anticipated by football fans worldwide, showcased the fierce competition between two Premier League giants. Jurgen Klopp’s youthful Liverpool side faced off against Thomas Tuchel’s formidable Chelsea team in a showdown that promised excitement and tension.

Throughout the game, both teams demonstrated their skill and determination, creating numerous scoring opportunities and thrilling moments for the spectators. However, as the clock ticked down towards the end of regular time, the score remained deadlocked in a tense stalemate.

As the match entered extra time, the intensity on the field only intensified, with each side pushing for a decisive breakthrough. It was Liverpool’s star defender, Virgil van Dijk, who ultimately proved to be the hero of the night. In a heart-stopping moment, van Dijk rose above the Chelsea defense to head home a crucial goal deep into extra time.

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The Wembley Stadium erupted with cheers from Liverpool fans as van Dijk’s late header secured the victory and clinched the Carabao Cup title for Klopp’s side. It was a moment of pure jubilation for the Liverpool players, staff, and supporters, marking a memorable triumph in their footballing journey.

The match’s thrilling conclusion highlighted the unpredictable nature of football and the exhilarating drama that unfolds on the grand stage. Liverpool’s triumph with late heroics against Chelsea will be remembered as a testament to their resilience, determination, and unwavering spirit in pursuit of success.

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Boniface named among Bundesliga’s most skilful stars

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Bayer Leverkusen star Victor Boniface has secured a nomination among the most skilful players in the ongoing 2023/24 Bundesliga campaign so far.

After his move from Union SG last July, the Super Eagles striker wasted no time making an impact under the guidance of manager Xabi Alonso.

Boniface’s initial burst in Germany was nothing short of impressive, netting ten goals in 16 league matches.

However, his promising run hit an abrupt halt due to a groin injury, forcing him to miss the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations held in Ivory Coast.

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Despite his current injury setback, the striker’s noteworthy performances have not gone unnoticed.

The spotlight now shines on a particular display of individual brilliance during Leverkusen’s Bundesliga clash against RB Leipzig at the Bay Arena in August 2023.

In that game, Boniface executed a cunning feint, deceiving his marker into anticipating a right-footed shot, only to cleverly pass the ball with his left foot. Although he didn’t find the net, Leverkusen emerged victorious with a 3-2 scoreline.

Boniface shares the skills spotlight with four other notable players: Andrej Kramaric, Jadon Sancho, Felix Nmecha, and Xavi Simons.

To participate in the voting process, fans can visit the Bundesliga’s official website and select their choice among the nominated players.

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At the time of this report, Jadon Sancho leads the polls with an impressive 75% of the votes. Xavi Simons secures the second position with 17%, while Boniface currently holds 5%. Hoffenheim’s Kramaric and Dortmund’s Nmecha trail behind with 1% and 2% of the votes, respectively.

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