Ferrari show off new SF1000 car with a touch of theatre

The SF1000, marking the Italian team’s 1,000th race that comes up this year, is the car Ferrari hope can end six years of Mercedes domination and dash Lewis Hamilton’s bid to equal Michael Schumacher’s record seven titles. If the red machine looked superficially similar under the stage lights to the 2019 version, team principal Mattia Binotto said appearances were deceptive.

* Sebastian Vettel is Ferrari’s first choice to partner Charles Leclerc next year, team boss Mattia Binotto said on Tuesday, despite speculation that they want six times world champion Lewis Hamilton. The 32-year-old German had a difficult and disappointing 2019 season, outperformed by Leclerc in the young Monegasque’s first year at Ferrari, and is out of contract at the end of 2020.

* Holders France will face a strong Russia side and hosts Hungary in the group stage of the inaugural version of the US$18 million Fed Cup Finals to be held in Budapest from April 14-19. France, who beat Australia in the last final of the 57-year-old team event’s previous format in November, are one of four nations who qualified automatically for the 12-nation event to be staged on clay at the Laszlo Papp Sports Arena. Hungary, as hosts, Australia as runners-up and 11-times winners Czech Republic, as a wild card, were the other three.

* Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele has been ruled out for six months after undergoing an operation on his torn hamstring in Finland on Tuesday. The Spanish champions will be allowed to make an emergency signing to replace him provided the Spanish football federation ratifies Dembele’s medical report.

* A Manchester United fans’ group says it welcomes the club’s application to have 1,500 rail seats installed at Old Trafford, intended to allow supporters to stand in safety. The club applied for permission to the local Safety Advisory Group in December and hopes to be given the go-ahead to begin using the seats this season.

* Canadian teenager Felix Auger-Aliassime outlasted Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff to win 6-3 1-6 6-3 and advance to the last-16 of the Rotterdam Open on Tuesday. The 19-year-old Auger-Aliassime, who had his breakthrough season last year when he climbed up to 17th in the rankings, nearly threw it away in the second set when he lost five games in a row before he regained his composure in the final set.

* FC Tokyo had to settle for a share of the points against former champions Ulsan Hyundai on Tuesday as Adailton’s own goal saw the Japanese side held to a 1-1 draw in the opening round of group games in the 2020 Asian Champions League. The pair shared the points in their opening Group F meeting, with the clash between Perth Glory and Shanghai Shenhua postponed by the Asian Football Confederation due to the coronavirus outbreak in China.

* Juergen Klinsmann on Tuesday resigned as Hertha Berlin coach after only 10 weeks in charge, citing a lack of support and trust. Former World Cup winner Klinsmann had replaced Ante Covic as head coach in late November with Hertha struggling in the relegation zone. But despite pledges to turn things around and make the team a powerhouse in Germany in the next few seasons, Hertha have managed only one win in their last five league games and are in 14th spot, six points above the relegation play-off spot.

* China’s table tennis federation thanked its Qatari counterpart on Tuesday for providing training facilities and equipment, including 2,000 balls, to its national team, who are training in Doha to avoid the coronavirus outbreak at home.

* Veteran Togo international striker Emmanuel Adebayor has joined Olimpia on a free transfer, the Paraguayan first division club said on Tuesday. The announcement came four days after Olimpia’s president, Marco Trovato, promised to sign the 35-year-old if the club attracted an additional 20,000 members over the weekend.

* Athletic Club Bilbao and Granada will face each other in the first semifinal match of the Copa del Rey in Athletic’s San Mames stadium on Wednesday night in a game which sees the side that knocked out FC Barcelona take on the victors against defending champions Valencia. In contrast to the earlier rounds of the Copa, which have been played over one game and produced a host of surprises, the semifinals change format to become a home and away affair, with the return leg in Granada on March 5th.

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