Ferrari principals: Important to start fast for title hopes

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Ferrari has pinned the new regulations for 2014 as a golden opportunity to end its respective Formula One title droughts. And if Ferrari doesn’t start in a relative hole, the team hopes it will have a good chance.

That was one of the key points outlined by team principal Stefano Domenicali as part of Ferrari’s online launch Saturday morning.

“The season will be very long. It will be important to start with a very reliable car at the beginning, and have the dynamic on the other side that was here last year,”  he said in a video released by the team.

“There are lots of things to be tested and checked. The most important thing as we have to avoid is to fall under the big pressure that we have. It has to be very clear. Need to stay very focused on the job.”

Without saying as much, that seems like a directive from Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo that it’s title-or-bust in 2014 for Domenicali, who has failed to achieve the mark since becoming team principal.

Drivers Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen more or less echoed the thoughts.

“I think Kimi and me as a team, we should be quite strong on paper, as we have had some success in the past,” Alonso said in his video. “You need to discover every year where you’re at. It’s up to us to deliver and do a good job.”

Added Raikkonen, in his: “I want to be 100 percent focused as possible for the following season. It was a good time to have this thing done and get enough running of a Formula One car this year.

“If we are the strongest team, and I hope we will be, we both want to win and the time will tell if we can bring the championships back to Ferrari.”

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).