Formula E season eight reaches midpoint with double-header in Berlin

The first race of Formula E's Season 8 took place in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia. (LAT)
The first race of Formula E's Season 8 took place in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia. (LAT)
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Updated 14 May 2022

Formula E season eight reaches midpoint with double-header in Berlin

Formula E season eight reaches midpoint with double-header in Berlin
  • 2022 Shell Recharge Berlin E-Prix features rounds seven and eight of the 2021/22 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, halfway through the biggest-ever 16-race season
  • Mercedes-EQ lead Drivers’ and Teams’ World Championship standings, with Stoffel Vandoorne ahead of the pack

RIYADH: The ABB FIA Formula E World Championship lands at Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport Circuit for the seventh and eighth rounds of the 2021/22 campaign on May 14-15.

The 2022 Shell Recharge Berlin E-Prix will see Formula E return to the German capital, a fixture on the calendar since the inaugural 2014/15 season.

Uniquely, the 22 drivers from 11 teams race in Berlin in both anti-clockwise and clockwise variations of the circuit in the double-header race weekend.

As it stands, just 10 points split Drivers’ World Championship leader Stoffel Vandoorne (Mercedes-EQ), Jean-Eric Vergne (DS TECHEETAH), Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS Racing) and Robin Frijns (Envision Racing). With 29 points on offer each day, there will be plenty of opportunities for drivers to improve their standings before the chequered flag falls on round eight.

Last time out, Vandoorne (Mercedes-EQ) wrestled control of the Drivers’ World Championship after claiming victory in the Monaco E-Prix.

The Belgian fended off the attentions of Jaguar TCS Racing’s Mitch Evans, with the Kiwi unable to convert his Julius Baer Pole Position and winding up second, and DS TECHEETAH’s Jean-Eric Vergne coming home third

Vandoorne has won twice around Tempelhof and will undoubtedly be the driver with the target on his back this weekend.

Monaco saw consecutive podium finishes for Vergne after his second-place finish in Rome’s round five. With consistency key in Formula E and even after losing the Drivers’ advantage to Vandoorne for now, he knows he is sitting pretty just six points back.

Evans is three points shy of Vergne, while Robin Frijns (Envision Racing) is another point behind in fourth spot and stringing together a charge. The Dutchman has scored strongly in all but the opening race of the season, and his three podiums are as good as any other driver in the standings has yet to manage.

The TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team pairing of Andre Lotterer and Pascal Wehrlein have shown pace so far this season and will be looking to bounce back after neither car finished the race in Monaco. Ahead of the race, Porsche reserve driver Simona De Silvestro took the Formula E Gen2 car on a spin through downtown Berlin, passing historic sites, including the Brandenburg Gate and Alexanderplatz.

Berlin is the only city to have hosted a race in every season of Formula E, and in all but one of those seasons the expansive Tempelhofer Feld has been the host venue, one of the largest inner-city parks in the world.

The 2.4 km Tempelhof Airport Street Circuit will host two different configurations over the weekend, with Saturday’s race using the traditional anti-clockwise direction and Sunday switching to clockwise. It is a unique challenge for the teams and drivers, but one they relish — and a favorite of many.

The bumpy concrete apron, higher-than-usual degradation and high grip take a toll on energy management and make race strategies a headache, but the action is always among the best on the calendar.

In the final race of 2020/21, the last time Formula E visited, Mercedes secured the Teams’ World Championship alongside teammate Nyck de Vries’ Drivers’ title.


Mane’s Liverpool future hangs in the balance ahead of European final

Mane’s Liverpool future hangs in the balance ahead of European final
Updated 12 sec ago

Mane’s Liverpool future hangs in the balance ahead of European final

Mane’s Liverpool future hangs in the balance ahead of European final
  • The Senegalese star, who has been at Liverpool since 2016 and has a year left on his deal, teased this week that he “will answer after the Champions League (final) if I’m staying or not”

PARIS: Sadio Mané’s last game for Liverpool could be on Saturday in the Champions League final against Real Madrid.

The Senegal international’s future was a hot topic on Friday when Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp held his pre-match news conference at Stade de France in Paris.

Klopp was unwilling to make any guarantees about Mane staying at Liverpool, amid reported interest from German champion Bayern Munich.

“This is the wrong moment to speak about that,” Klopp said. “Wherever Sadio will play next season, he will be a big player, definitely.”

Mane, who has been at Liverpool since 2016 and has a year left on his deal, teased this week that he “will answer after the Champions League (final) if I’m staying or not.”

“Come back to me on Saturday,” Mane added in an interview with Sky Sports, “and I will give you the best answer you want to hear, for sure. It’s special.”

Klopp seemed irritated that stories about Mane’s future have come up before the Champions League final and suggested it might have something to do with him being the former coach of Borussia Dortmund — the biggest title rival of Bayern Munich in Germany.

“It’s not the first time in my career that before a decisive game, Bayern Munich rumors are coming up,” Klopp said. “I don’t know what I did. It happens.”

Klopp also expressed his surprise that a new playing surface had been laid at the Stade de France late Thursday, barely two days before the biggest match in European club soccer.

Paris is a replacement host for the game, with Saint Petersburg — where it was initially scheduled to be played — stripped of hosting rights after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The field has been belatedly relaid because there were concerts staged at the stadium last weekend.

“Obviously not the best news for both teams. I have no idea how it will be,” Klopp said.

“If somebody thought it was a good idea to bring the pitch the day before the game, it’s an interesting idea, to be honest. But it didn’t kill my mood a percent. I’m really happy we were here — we would have played on a petanque (surface).”


French international forward Moussa Diaby is NUFC’s top target

French international forward Moussa Diaby is NUFC’s top target
Updated 53 min 59 sec ago

French international forward Moussa Diaby is NUFC’s top target

French international forward Moussa Diaby is NUFC’s top target
  • Diaby, along with Renan Lodi of Atletico Madrid and Sven Botman of Lille, are all thought to be under consideration by the United hierarchy.

NEWCASTLE: Bayer Leverkusen's Moussa Diaby has emerged as a top Newcastle United target this summer.
Arab News understands the Magpies are monitoring the situation of the French international forward as they look to strengthen their lot in the transfer window. Trading opens in the Premier League on Friday, June 10.
The 22-year-old, former Paris Saint-Germain wide player has been a revelation in Germany this season, scoring 13 goals and providing 12 assists as Leverkusen qualified for the Champions League in 2022/23.
And while the Magpies cannot offer top level European football, they can offer players the chance to be part of the most exciting project in world football, as well as showcase themselves in the most competitive division on the planet, the Premier League.
Diaby, along with Renan Lodi of Atletico Madrid and Sven Botman of Lille, are all thought to be under consideration by the United hierarchy.
And St James' Park chiefs have been given encouragement in their pursuit of Netherlands prospect Botman.
Lille proved reluctant sellers in the January window as United had bid after bid rejected for the player, despite being welcomed to the table by the Ligue 1 outfit.
This summer, it has been widely expected, and reported in the Italian press, the left-footed central defender would put pen to paper at AC Milan.
However, club legend and current technical director Paolo Maldini has cast doubt on the move being a cast iron certainty while speaking to Italian outlet La Gazzetta dello Sport. 
Talks between Botman’s representatives - headed up by agent Nikkie Bruinenberg - and Milan are understood to have progressed well at the back end of the season and terms, as reported elsewhere, are believed to have been agreed.
But the door has been left ajar for United.
On Botman, Maldini said: “We followed him, but there are many good players in that role.”
And when comparison is made between his comments on the 21-year-old and those on outgoing Liverpool striker Divock Origi, a deal widely understood to be at a similar stage of negotiations, the differences are stark.
Maldini continued: “Sure, we are talking with (Divock) Origi, this is well advanced. Let’s not forget that (Olivier) Giroud is a champion, a high-level player. But we also have (Ante) Rebic. The solutions are there. Then it is normal that to compete you have to think about improving something. We will move according to the budget.”
Meanwhile, a deal to have Brighton transfer chief Dan Ashworth in place for the opening of the transfer window looks to be progressing.
It's understood Ashworth is on Tyneside to complete his move - and he should take up the role of Sporting Director imminently.
Ashworth resigned from his role at the Amex Stadium in February, but has been on 'gardening leave' ever since.


Leclerc completes ‘double top’ for Ferrari in Monaco practice

Leclerc completes ‘double top’ for Ferrari in Monaco practice
Updated 27 May 2022

Leclerc completes ‘double top’ for Ferrari in Monaco practice

Leclerc completes ‘double top’ for Ferrari in Monaco practice
  • The 24-year-old Monegasque driver clocked a best lap in one minute and 12.656 seconds to outpace the Spaniard by just 0.044 seconds
  • After topping the times in the opening session, Leclerc was quickly back on the pace in his Ferrari, running on hard tyres

MONTE CARLO, Monaco: Charles Leclerc completed a convincing ‘double top’ at his home Monaco Grand Prix on Friday, finishing second practice fastest ahead of his Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz.
The 24-year-old Monegasque driver, who was also quickest in the opening session, clocked a best lap in one minute and 12.656 seconds to outpace the Spaniard by just 0.044 seconds, leaving the two Red Bulls of Sergio Perez and world champion Max Verstappen third and fourth, more than three-tenths adrift.
Lando Norris, still battling tonsilitis, was fifth for McLaren ahead of George Russell of Mercedes and Pierre Gasly, an impressive seventh for the Alpha Tauri team on a very warm afternoon in the Mediterranean principality.
Two-time champion Fernando Alonso was eighth for Alpine ahead of four-time champion Sebastian Vettel of Aston Martin and Yuki Tsunoda in the second Alpha Tauri.
This left a disgruntled Lewis Hamilton down in 12th, behind Kevin Magnussen’s Haas, in the second Mercedes, the seven-time champion struggling with continued bouncing as he sought a set-up that would be comfortable and fast.
The session was interrupted once by a red flag when Daniel Ricciardo crashed in the Swimming Pool complex, emerging unscathed from his damaged McLaren.
After topping the times in the opening session, Leclerc was quickly back on the pace in his Ferrari, running on hard tires, as he sought to become the first Monegasque to score points at home since Louis Chiron finished third in 1950 and regain the lead in this year’s drivers’ championship.
After his third consecutive win in Spain last Sunday, Dutchman Verstappen leads on 110 points, six ahead of Leclerc.
In a fast-switching contest between them, the Red Bulls and Ferraris were within two-tenths of a second of each other as Russell and the rest bumped in pursuit, Mercedes still searching for a successful set-up.
In opening practice, Hamilton had complained of continued serious bouncing described by team chief Toto Wolff as making their car ‘undriveable’.
He explained it was not the same ‘porpoising’ as seen earlier this year, but a ride height problem.
“Sometimes, it is a combination of aerodynamics and stiffness, but this is just due to the stiffness,” he said, adding that Hamilton had requested padding for his elbows for the second session.
“We’ll try to make it more enjoyable for them, but we want a fast car,” he said. “If it’s fast, we will make him all the pads he needs.”
Ricciardo delivered another example of the bumpy challenge the drivers faced after 14 minutes when he lost control of his McLaren and smacked into the barriers at the ‘swimming pool’ complex.
He was unhurt but his car suffered severe front damage, ending his participation. A seven-minute delay for the day’s second red flag ensued before Valtteri Bottas, back in action after earlier gearbox problems, led the field back in his Alfa Romeo.
The pause offered all involved a chance to breathe and relax in the heat, with an air temperature of 30 degrees and the track at 53, before returning to an intense ‘qualifying rehearsal’ scrap.
Leclerc continued to look dominant, trimming his lap to 1:12.656, three-tenths clear of an improved Perez before Sainz climbed back to second, two-tenths off the pace.
At this point, with 20 minutes to go, Ferrari were on top of Red Bull’s challenge, while others scrambled and scraped. Russell clipped the barriers at Tabac, Norris did the same at Ste Devote and Hamilton locked up at Mirabeau — three Britons sliding in the heat before switching to longer high fuel-load running.
Leclerc was notable for his absence with 12 minutes remaining, but he returned for the final six to complete a solid day’s work by the ‘scarlet Scuderia’ who finished with a strong one-two.


UEFA chief Ceferin calls on La Liga to stop criticism of PSG

UEFA chief Ceferin calls on La Liga to stop criticism of PSG
Updated 27 May 2022

UEFA chief Ceferin calls on La Liga to stop criticism of PSG

UEFA chief Ceferin calls on La Liga to stop criticism of PSG
  • Tebas hit out at Mbappe's decision to snub the Spanish champions
  • Ceferin said: "There are too many insults anyway in football, and I think that every league should worry about their own situation"

PARIS: UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin on Friday encouraged leagues to “worry about their own situation” in response to remarks by La Liga chief Javier Tebas after Paris Saint-Germain persuaded Kylian Mbappe to stay in France rather than join Real Madrid.
Tebas hit out at Mbappe’s decision to snub the Spanish champions and sign a new three-year deal in Paris, calling the contract “an insult to football.”
Speaking to AFP in an interview in Paris ahead of Saturday’s Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid, Ceferin said: “I absolutely don’t agree. There are too many insults anyway in football, and I think that every league should worry about their own situation.”
“I don’t think it is right that one league criticizes the other league. As much as I know, the offer from Real for Mbappe was similar to PSG’s offer,” Ceferin added.
French league president Vincent Labrune responded to Tebas in a letter sent on Thursday and seen by AFP, in which he voiced “disapproval, and also our incomprehension” at the “attacks” against PSG and Ligue 1.
In Tebas’ tweet attacking Ligue 1 he said PSG were had paid “large sums of money” to hold onto Mbappe “after posting losses of 700 million euros in recent seasons and having a wage bill of over 600 million euros.”
PSG suffered a 224.3-million-euro ($240m) loss in 2020/21, an increase of 80 percent on the previous year, the annual report from French football’s financial authority (DNCG) said earlier this month.


Liverpool’s Thiago, Fabinho fit for Champions League final

Liverpool’s Thiago, Fabinho fit for Champions League final
Updated 27 May 2022

Liverpool’s Thiago, Fabinho fit for Champions League final

Liverpool’s Thiago, Fabinho fit for Champions League final
  • Thiago was brought off at half-time of Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Wolves last weekend nursing an Achilles problem
  • Fabinho has not featured since sustaining a muscular injury in a 2-1 win at Aston Villa on May 10

LIVERPOOL: Liverpool’s preparations for the Champions League final were boosted by the news that midfielders Thiago Alcantara and Fabinho will be fit to face Real Madrid after injury scares.
Thiago was brought off at half-time of Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Wolves last weekend nursing an Achilles problem.
Fabinho has not featured since sustaining a muscular injury in a 2-1 win at Aston Villa on May 10.
However, the Brazilian took a full part in an open training session in front of the media on Wednesday.
“Thiago Alcantara and Fabinho will be included in Liverpool’s traveling squad for the Champions League final against Real Madrid,” Liverpool said in a statement.
“The pair will be among the players journeying to Paris for Saturday’s clash at Stade de France following injury concerns and are set to come into contention to return.”
Both players have been pivotal to Liverpool’s stunning season that has already seen them lift two trophies in the League Cup and FA Cup.
Jurgen Klopp’s men missed out on the Premier League title by a single point as Manchester City needed a stirring comeback from 2-0 down against Villa on Sunday to claim a fourth championship in five seasons.
However, the Reds can make amends by lifting a seventh European Cup against the most successful club in the competition on Saturday.