Button May Have Been Gassed In St Tropez Burglary

Jenson Button arriving at SilverstoneJenson Button may have been gassed during a burglary at a rented villa in St Tropez, a spokesman for the former Formula One world champion has told the BBC.

Button and wife Jessica were staying with friends in France when two men broke in. They stole jewellery worth 300,000 euros (211,245.01 pounds), according to a police spokesman for the Var region.

“Mr Button learned about the burglary as he woke up. Nobody was hurt,” the police spokesman said. When asked by Reuters, the French police had no information about the possible use of gas.

However, a spokesman for the racing driver told the BBC that gas may have been used during the burglary.

“Two men broke into the property whilst they all slept and stole a number of items of jewellery including, most upsettingly, Jessica’s engagement ring.

“The police have indicated that this has become a growing problem in the region with perpetrators going so far as to gas their proposed victims through the air conditioning units before breaking in,” he added.

Button, the 2009 world champion, has endured a nightmare year in Formula One.

His McLaren team had their worst ever start to a season and had scored just four points from their first eight races before Button and team mate Fernando Alonso picked up 13 points between them at the British and Hungarian grands prix.

Van Gaal Hints United May Be Interested In Real’s Ramos

VanGaalManchester United manager Louis van Gaal has hinted the club may be pursuing Real Madrid’s Spain defender Sergio Ramos and could also sign a “surprise” striker.

There has been media speculation in recent weeks that the 29-year-old Ramos, who has two years left on his Real contract, could join United as part of a swap deal, with his Spain team mate and goalkeeper David De Gea, 24, going the other way.

United have also been linked with a bid for Barcelona’s Spain forward Pedro and Bayern Munich’s Germany forward Thomas Mueller as Van Gaal looks to revitalise the squad after a disappointing 2014-15 campaign.

Pedro, 27, no longer commands a regular spot in Barca’s starting lineup following the arrival of Uruguay striker Luis Suarez, while the 25-year-old Mueller is said to be unhappy with Bayern coach Pep Guardiola’s working methods.

“I cannot talk about these rumours,” Van Gaal said when asked about Ramos at a news conference on the club’s North American tour.

“I have said in a lot of press conferences that it’s a process,” added the Dutchman. “Maybe Mr Ramos is in the process… you never know.”

Van Gaal said the club could buy a striker but cautioned that it was not a player that had been written about in the media.

“You have to wait and see,” he told reporters. “The transfer period is open until Sept. 1 so we have to wait.”

Hamilton Determined To Dominate Home Race

Formula-1-Team-bosses-vote-Lewis-Hamilton-best-driver-in-F1Lewis Hamilton may not be feeling the years just yet but the double Formula One world champion still senses time is ticking by as he gears up for the ninth British Grand Prix of his career. The Mercedes driver is determined to dominate at Silverstone on Sunday, where a record crowd of 140,000 will be roaring him on, because every chance to celebrate with the home fans is increasingly precious.

“I am noticing the years go by,” said the 30-year-old championship leader, who has twice won at the circuit after a stunning debut season in 2007 and is chasing a triple that would put him alongside the likes of Jim Clark and Nigel Mansell.

“The race is gone and it is another year. I might have seven chances at the Silverstone grand prix left, it seems like a lot but it isn’t.

“They are very precious opportunities, each and every single one of them. So when you lose out on one, the feeling to come back and do it again the following year is even greater.”

Hamilton won last year’s race, his first triumph at Silverstone since his 2008 title-winning season with McLaren, but team mate and title rival Nico Rosberg took pole position.

“It wasn’t a perfect weekend. So I don’t know whether I have had a weekend where I have really dominated it,” Hamilton continued.

“And I think this year that has really been the target, dominating weekends and really conquering the circuit, through practise, qualifying and the race.”

The pressure will be on, much of it self-imposed. Rosberg, who is just 10 points behind after eight of the season’s 19 races, can add to that too and will need no reminding of the burden of expectation Hamilton is carrying.

The German celebrated his 30th birthday last Saturday after winning in Austria and another victory would be his fourth in five races. Unlike Hamilton, he also tested in Austria after the race.

“With the extra day in the car on Wednesday also, helping the team prepare for Silverstone, I feel ready to go full attack at a circuit I really enjoy,” Rosberg said in a team preview.

“It should suit our car nicely with the focus on downforce and we learnt some useful things during the test, so I’m sure we’ll be strong once again.”

If rivals are resigned to a Mercedes duel at the front, Ferrari should be back in the mix while Mercedes-powered Williams are also in the hunt for the podium after two successive third places.

Red Bull, with their factory in nearby Milton Keynes, are hoping to get closer to Williams despite ongoing complaints about the lack of performance of their Renault engine.

Force India, whose factory is across the road from the circuit, will meanwhile debut a much upgraded car.

“Everyone is full of anticipation, but we know it will be a very steep learning curve to fully understand and get on top of the changes in just a few free practise sessions,” said co-owner Vijay Mallya.

U.S. Ready To End 100 Metre Drought

gatlin_rome_597x400A strong and hungry group of U.S. sprinters is ready to end a long American drought. The once dominant country has not won a global title in the 100 metres since 2007, but that could change at the IAAF world championships in Beijing in August.

Led by year’s fastest man Justin Gatlin, the U.S. squad finalised at the weekend’s American trials is loaded with talent to challenge the world.

“The U.S. team will be the strongest for some years,” internationally recognised athletics expert Mel Watman told Reuters when asked to assess the overall strength of the American team.

“At the 2013 worlds the U.S. won only six gold medals but in Beijing I wouldn’t be surprised if your athletes won double that number.”

Along with Gatlin, former world champion Tyson Gay, the last U.S. sprinter to hold a global title, promising teenager Trayvon Bromell and veteran Mike Rodgers, all will be in the 100m at Beijing.

“I think a lot of (U.S.) sprinters are waking up and understanding that it’s time to fight back,” said Gatlin, who had a bye in the 100m at the trials but ran a scorching 19.57 seconds in the 200m.

Only four men have ever run faster.

“It’s time to go out there and work hard and bear that American flag with honour,” said the controversial Gatlin, who has served two doping bans.

“I think a lot of us are doing that, Bromell, Tyson, myself, even Isiah Young in the 200, Wallace Spearmon.

“We’re going out there and we’re going to be ready when it comes to world championships.”

The group’s speed in both sprints — Gatlin, Young and Spearmon will run the 200m — has given the Americans hopes of dethroning an underperforming Usain Bolt, who has won all but one global 100m title since 2007. The other went to Jamaican compatriot Yohan Blake.

There is strength too on the women’s side with English Gardner sharing the year’s top time in the 100m and London Olympic gold medallist Allyson Felix the outright leader in the 200.

Along with Gatlin, Felix, Gardner and Olympic pole vault champion Jenn Suhr, the Americans leave their trials with nine other athletes with the top performances in the world this year.

“A nice blend of youth and experience, as typified in the sprints where you have proven big-time winners like Gatlin (33), Gay (32) and Felix (29) lining up with wonderful newcomers to the international scene such as Bromell (19) and Jenna Prandini (22),” said Watman.

“The strength in depth in numerous events was awesome.

“No other nation could match 12 men inside 10.00 seconds for 100m (admittedly some wind assisted), six inside 45 seconds for 400m, five long jumpers over 8.30m, nine women inside 11.00 seconds for 100m, and six 100m hurdlers inside 12.70 seconds.”

Mystery As Bolt Declines To Race In Trials

Usain BoltMystery and confusion surrounded Usain Bolt after he declined to race in the 100 metres at Jamaica’s national trials on Thursday, raising concerns about his fitness ahead of the world championships.

Bolt was entered in the race in the preliminary list published by the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) on Sunday but his name was missing from the list of runners released three days later.

“He was entered and has since been withdrawn,” JAAA general secretary Garth Gayle told Reuters.

Bolt needs to sharpen his form for the world championships in Beijing in August when he is automatically entered to defend the 100 and 200 titles he won in 2013.

“Usain was never confirmed to run at the trials,” said his agent Ricky Simms. “He put his name in to have the option.

“I already told the media that coach (Glen) Mills would make a decision on Wednesday if he needed the race or if he preferred him to train ahead of Paris and Lausanne (next month).”

The 100 metres got underway at 1000 local time (1500 GMT) on Thursday with a qualifying round. The quarter-finals are scheduled for 1855.

Bolt, 28, appeared to be in good shape when training on Wednesday, sources said.

The 100 and 200 world record holder has struggled for form this year with modest best times of 10.12 seconds for the 100 in Brazil and 20.13 for the 200 in Ostrava.

The 10-times world championship medallist expressed concerns after clocking a pedestrian 20.29 to win the 200 at the recent New York Diamond League meeting where he said he ran his “worst turn ever.”

Bolt is scheduled to run Diamond League races in Paris on July 4, an event he pulled out of last year with a foot injury, and Lausanne five days later.

Rosberg Gets The Jump On Hamilton In Austria

500Nico Rosberg won the Austrian Grand Prix for the second year in a row on Sunday with his championship-leading Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton losing out at the start and having to settle for second.

Hamilton’s lead in the Formula One standings was cut to 10 points after eight of 19 races, the Briton making a poor getaway from pole position and being beaten into the first corner by the determined German.

The victory was Rosberg’s third of the season, to Hamilton’s four, and left him on 159 points to his rival’s 169.

Asked why he did not drive every race like that, Rosberg smiled: “I will try from now on,” he told reporters. “It’s an awesome feeling of course to win again here. The start made the race.

“It really worked out perfectly today,” added the German, who turns 30 next weekend.

Any hopes of a chase to the end disappeared when Hamilton, who finished 3.8 seconds behind, collected a five-second penalty for crossing the white line as he left the pits on the 35th of the 71 laps.

The double world champion recognised that he was never close enough even without the penalty.

“Nico did a fantastic job today. He was quicker during the race, I had a bad start which lost me ground,” said Hamilton in podium interviews conducted by former F1 racer Gerhard Berger. “I was pushing as hard as I could.”

Force India Hope Hulkenberg Can Build On Le Mans Win

Nico+Hulkenberg+June+14+2015Force India are hoping Nico Hulkenberg’s triumph at the Le Mans 24 Hours race will have a knock-on effect for them at next weekend’s Austrian Formula One Grand Prix.

Hulkenberg won the classic endurance race at the first attempt with Porsche on Sunday, having gone straight to the French track from scoring points at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal.

After a few days of recovery, the 27-year-old German will be back in action with his regular employers in Friday practice at Spielberg.

“Nico’s performance displayed his immense talent and made all of us at Sahara Force India proud,” said team principal and co-owner Vijay Mallya, who was at Le Mans to witness Hulkenberg’s victory, on Monday.

“I truly hope he will be boosted by this success and translate it into another great performance in Austria,” added the liquor mogul in a preview of the eighth round of the championship.

Hulkenberg’s eighth place in Montreal was only his second scoring finish of the season and left Force India seventh overall and level on points with sixth-placed Sauber.

The German, who finished ninth in Austria last year, has yet to stand on the Formula One podium and said on Sunday that winning Le Mans was his greatest achievement.

He cannot expect such excitement with Force India this week, with the Mercedes-powered team treading water before introducing a heavily revised car at next month’s British Grand Prix.

“We are still on course to introduce an important step in Silverstone,” said Mallya. “In the meantime, the team has done well to squeeze more performance from our current package.

“The high-speed layout of Canada certainly played to the strengths of the Mercedes engine and, as Austria is regarded as another ‘power’ circuit’, I would like to think we can be in the top 10 once again.”

Could The Glazers Lose Their Public Enemy No.1 Tag At Manchester United?

Manchester United v Manchester City - Barclays Premier LeagueThe Glazers are unlikely to ever be liked, let alone loved, by fans of Manchester United. The fiercely private American family that bought the famous English football club 10 years ago has been widely depicted by the team’s fans and the British media as seeking to bleed the club dry after leveraging it up with debt.

Yet the Glazers are now assuaging some of their critics as the club says it will bankroll new player signings and is in a position to return to Europe’s biggest cup competition after failing to qualify in 2014 for the first time in 19 years. Crucially, their transformation of United into a commercial cash machine may give them an advantage over rivals.

There have been modest signs of hope for investors in the club’s New York-listed shares, which have outperformed the S&P 500 so far this year, gaining 2.3 percent against the index’s rise of 1.7 percent as revenue and cash flow are expected to climb. The shares have lagged the market since United’s 2012 initial public offering.

“My view is Man United are better off for the Glazer’s ownership. Building the commercial engine they’ve built will continue to serve the club well,” said Philip Hall, managing partner at Spotlight Equity Partners, who advised other U.S investors on purchases of Liverpool and Sunderland football clubs.

Last week, consultancy Brand Finance declared that Manchester United (MANU.N) had regained its position as the most valuable football brand in the world in annual rankings, moving up from No. 3 in 2014. The value of its brand had soared 63 percent in the past year to $1.2 billion as its Executive Vice-Chairman Ed Woodward and the Glazers “capitalised on the brand’s growing power to establish a worldwide fan-base and a range of sponsorship deals unrivalled in their number and value,” according to Brand Finance CEO David Haigh.

United and the Glazers – the family rarely make any public statements – declined to comment for this story.

On the pitch, this season’s performance improved enough to get United fourth place in the English Premier League, up from what for United was a shockingly low seventh in 2013-14.

FIFA To Kick Off Blatter Succession Process In July

Sepp-Blatter-007Scandal-hit FIFA will hold an extraordinary executive committee meeting in July to discuss dates for the election to replace president Sepp Blatter, who announced his resignation last week.

Football’s governing body said in a statement that there were “various date options” for the extraordinary Congress and did not confirm a report by the BBC that the election would take place on Dec. 16.

Last week, Domenico Scala, head of FIFA’s audit and compliance committee and the man responsible for overseeing the election, said it could take place any time between December and March.

“It requires an extraordinary Executive Committee that needs to confirm a date and agenda for the extraordinary elective Congress,” said a FIFA spokesperson in a statement sent to Reuters.

“This extraordinary Executive Committee will convene in July, the precise date to be confirmed within this week. For this extraordinary elective Congress (to elect Blatter’s successor) there are currently various date options for discussion.”

Blatter tendered his resignation last Tuesday, less than a week after Swiss police staged a dawn raid on a luxury hotel in Zurich and arrested several officials on corruption charges filed by U.S. prosecutors in New York.

McLaren See No Risk Of Alonso Meltdown

ALONSOMcLaren are confident their relationship with Fernando Alonso is not about to go into meltdown after the Spaniard made his frustration evident in Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix

Those who predicted a bumpy ride, after the double world champion returned to the team he fell out with in a stormy 2007 season, will have heard the radio exchanges with some foreboding.

Until Sunday, despite failing to score a point for a team wrestling with a misfiring and underpowered Honda engine, Alonso had been relentlessly positive. But the mask slipped somewhat in Montreal.

Told to save fuel after just 24 of the 70 laps, he exclaimed: “I don’t want. I don’t want”.

“Already I have big problems now. Driving with this, looking like amateur. So I race and then I concentrate on the fuel.”

The ‘amateur’ reference lit up social media but McLaren racing director Eric Boullier, no stranger to fire-fighting after his time at Lotus, played down the suggestion that the relationship was starting to fray.

“If we are still like this next year, yes of course I’m sure he is going to turn mad, but I don’t think he will,” the Frenchman told reporters.

“You guys see him regularly and you can see he is happy with the team, happy where he is now. He wants to win, he wants to race, he wants to compete, we know he’s a winner and we have the same agenda anyway.

“He told me the other day he was considering this year like his testing year just to be ready next year,” added Boullier.

“At least he doesn’t put himself into a corner or a situation where he would feel frustrated.”

McLaren are starting a new partnership with Honda, with whom they won a string of Formula One titles in the late 1980s, but the Japanese manufacturer has considerable ground to make up with the new V6 turbo hybrid power units.

Champions Mercedes, Ferrari and even troubled Renault are well down the road after more than a year with the new and highly complex engines.

Neither McLaren finished Sunday’s race after both cars suffered exhaust problems, with Jenson Button also missing out on qualifying while the team changed his power unit.

“There is a lot of work obviously to be done,” said Boullier.

“We always say we have a mountain to climb but it looks like it’s a very high mountain.”