Mercedes chief would ‘take a chainsaw’ to Formula 1’s new halo

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff (C) said he would chop off Formula One’s new halo head-protection device with a chainsaw if he had his wish. (AFP)
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After years of research and development, the FIA settled on the halo to protect drivers from flying debris and crashes following fatal accidents. (AFP)
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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff (C) said he would chop off Formula One’s new halo head-protection device with a chainsaw if he had his wish. (AFP)
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After years of research and development, the FIA settled on the halo to protect drivers from flying debris and crashes following fatal accidents. (AFP)
Updated 22 February 2018
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Mercedes chief would ‘take a chainsaw’ to Formula 1’s new halo

SILVERSTONE, UK: Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said he would chop off Formula One’s new halo head-protection device with a chainsaw if he had his wish as the double world champions unveiled their new F1 car for the 2018 season.
After years of research and development, the FIA settled on the halo to protect drivers from flying debris and crashes following the fatal accidents of Jules Bianchi at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix and Justin Wilson in a 2015 IndyCar race.
“I’m not impressed with the whole thing and if you give me a chainsaw I would take it off,” said Wolff on Thursday, who complained about the weight of the new device.
“I think we need to look after the driver’s safety, but what we have implemented is aesthetically not appealing and we need to come up with a solution that simply looks better.”
Four-time world champion Lewis Hamilton was less stinging in his criticism of the halo’s new look, but warned the extra weight of the device, designed to be able to resist the weight of a double-decker bus, could lead to less exciting racing.
“Honestly I think the team have done a great job to integrate it and make it look as nice as it can look,” said Hamilton.
“I hope they don’t get much heavier, but I think next year the seat and driver can be 80 kilos. I can be a bodybuilder next year and get the beach body I want.
“There are parts of the lighter, more nimble cars I miss. It was easier to overtake. The heavier they are they will always continue to get slower.”
Hamilton cruised to the title with two races to spare last season.
However, the final three races of the year were split between Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen in the Red Bull and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.
And Hamilton is expecting a closer run on his quest to match Argentine great Juan Manuel Fangio as the second most successful Formula One driver of all-time.
“I think coming to the end of the year, the end of the season, Ferrari, Red Bull and us are very, very close,” he added.
“I anticipate this year will be probably quite similar in that sense. So I think we’ll see a tougher battle this year.”
Mercedes have won four drivers’ and constructors’ championships in a row, including the title Nico Rosberg won in 2016before retiring.
Wolff admitted that it might be better for overall interest in the sport for Mercedes not to match Ferrari’s record of five straight driver’s titles.
“If you look from the outside, does a long-term dominance of the team damage the spectacle? Yes it does,” said Wolff.
“A very competitive environment where multiple teams are able to win and where the championship goes down to the wire, these are clearly the ingredients (Formula One) needs.
“But that is not our objective. We try to optimize and we can’t from where we sit have an holistic approach to the global spectacle.”
In ominous news for the competition, Hamilton, 33, also looks set to extend his six-year stay at Mercedes with both driver and team hopeful of extending his current contract, which expires at the end of the year, before the season’s opening race in Australia on March 25.
“Toto knows that I know there is nowhere else, no one better, so he’s not going to be looking anywhere else, and he knows that I know there’s no one else better so I’m not looking anywhere else,” said Hamilton.
“The next couple of weeks would be a realistic target,” added Wolff.


Manuel Charr tests positive for steroids and is set to be stripped of WBA title

Updated 13 min 11 sec ago
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Manuel Charr tests positive for steroids and is set to be stripped of WBA title

  • Lebanon fighter has been forced to call off title defense against Fres Oquendo.
  • Two substances were founds in samples taken at a training camp on 31 August.

LONDON: World heavyweight champion Manuel Charr has had to call off next week’s title defense, and is set to be stripped of his WBA belt, after testing positive for steroids.

The 33-year-old, who was born in Lebanon but lives in Germany, was due to defend his title against American Fres Oquendo, 45, in Cologne on September 29, but the fight is off after Charr tested positive for two anabolic steroids.

“Under the circumstances, we will unfortunately have to cancel the world title fight,” Charr told Cologne-based newspaper Express and his management confirmed the title defense was off to SID, an AFP subsidiary.

“I can only ask my fans and all the people in Cologne to believe me and to trust that everything will be cleared up.

“I’m totally shocked by the news — I have never taken anything.”

Charr is set to lose the World Boxing Association belt he won last year, but Britain’s Anthony Joshua is the WBA ‘Super’ champion and will defend his title in London on Saturday against Alexander Povetkin.

Germany’s top selling daily Bild, Express and magazine Spiegel all report Charr tested positive for the steroids epitrenbolone and drostanolone.

“These are both anabolic steroids. That is absolute hardcore doping. In boxers, the emphasis is on increasing muscle strength,” doping expert Fritz Soergel told Bild.

The ‘B’ sample will now be tested, but if they also contain the steroids then the future looks bleak for Charr.

“The fight is shelved. In my opinion, the WBA will take the belt off Manuel,” Thomas Puetz, President of the German Professional Boxers Federation (BDB), told SID.

“Two substances were founds in one of Manuel’s samples taken at a training camp on 31 August, which have been on the banned list for some time.”

Charr won the vacant WBA belt last November with a unanimous win against Russia’s Alexander Ustinov and claimed to be Germany’s first heavyweight champion since Max Schmeling.

It turned out to be a lie, because the Beirut-born son of a Syrian family does not own a German passport.

Charr’s failed drugs test is the latest twist in a colorful career.

In September 2015, he was left fighting for his life after being shot in the stomach following an altercation at a kebab restaurant in Essen.

He returned to the ring just seven months later, bearing the scars of the attack on his abdomen, but another setback followed earlier last year when both hips had to be replaced.