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Sport shorts: Ferrari to start season ‘behind’ F1 rivals Mercedes and the Premier League is launching a hall of fame

1. Binotto: Mercedes still the best team

Ferrari go into the 2020 Formula 1 season hoping to end Mercedes’s domination at the front of the grid, but team principal Mattia Binotto admits that the Silver Arrows are still out in front. 

Mercedes have won six successive constructors’ championships and during pre-season testing in Barcelona Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas have impressed in the W11.   

Speaking in Spain Ferrari boss Binotto said his team will start the campaign behind Mercedes, BBC reports. 

“We believe we are not the fastest car at the moment and we believe in lap times we will be behind at the start of the season,” said Binotto. “They [Mercedes] remain the best team so far.”

Pre-season testing continues at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Sebastian Vettel is at the wheel of the Ferrari SF1000 today and Charles Leclerc will test tomorrow. 

2. Coronavirus chaos 

Most of today’s newspapers carry the latest on how the spread of coronavirus could affect the sporting world after the announcement that Ireland’s Six Nations match with Italy has been postponed. 

The Guardian says that the decision has plunged the tournament into chaos and “there are also escalating doubts over England’s trip to Italy [on 14 March] amid concerns the tournament may not be completed for the first time in almost 50 years”. 

Meanwhile, it’s also reported that the Formula 1 Australian, Bahrain and Vietnam grands prix may have to be cancelled while there are growing fears for this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Coronavirus: three-month window to save the Olympics in Tokyo

3. Big summer for Lampard

Frank Lampard is set for a busy summer with reports suggesting that the Chelsea manager is planning to make major changes to his squad. 

The Blues were beaten 3-0 at home by Bayern Munich in the Champions League in midweek and the result - and gulf in quality - could force Lampard to wield the axe. 

The Sun reports that Lampard is preparing to sell eight first-team players as part of a major overhaul at Stamford Bridge. 

Lampard’s Chelsea cull: major squad overhaul planned at Stamford Bridge

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4. Beckham: Solskjaer’s doing a good job

Former Manchester United and England captain David Beckham has praised current Red Devils boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. 

Beckham, who played alongside Solskjaer at Old Trafford, told Sky Sports: “I think he’s doing a good job. All of the fans will be behind him because he’s a great person and because of what he’s done for Manchester United over the years.”

Man Utd boss Solskjaer is backed to ‘spend, spend, spend’

5. India and Australia win at T20 World Cup

India and host nation Australia both secured victories in today’s group A matches at the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup. 

In Melbourne India beat New Zealand by three runs while in Canberra Australia enjoyed an 86-run win over Bangladesh. 

Tomorrow’s group B matches see South Africa take on Thailand (4am GMT) and England face Pakistan (8am GMT). Both games in Canberra are live on Sky Sports.

6. EPL to launch a hall of fame 

The Premier League has revealed plans to launch an official Hall of Fame to celebrate the players who have graced the competition since its inception in 1992.

The first two inductees will be revealed on Thursday 19 March and a shortlist of nominees will also be announced with fans invited to vote on who will join the hall of fame.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said: “Since 1992, the Premier League has been home to world-class players who have defined generations and provided us with compelling football season after season. 

“A place in the Premier League hall of fame is reserved for the very best. It will be an occasion for our fans around the world to look back over the years and help us celebrate some truly exceptional playing careers.”

Fans on Twitter are backing Alan Shearer and Ryan Giggs to be the first two players inducted in the hall of fame.

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7. Bronze out of SheBelieves Cup

Lyon star Lucy Bronze has been forced to withdraw from the England squad for next month’s SheBelieves Cup. 

The 28-year-old right-back has a calf injury and will stay in France for treatment. She said on Twitter: “Haven’t missed a single camp and been present at every single game for the past 5 years. Gonna have massive FOMO next week.”

The Lionesses, the SheBelieves Cup holders, start their defence against world champions United States on 5 March. Spain and Japan also play in the four-team tournament being held in the US. 

8. Watson and Wilson in England squad

England rugby head coach Eddie Jones has named Anthony Watson and Mark Wilson in a 25-man training squad for the Six Nations match against Wales. However, prop Mako Vunipola and hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie are unavailable because of family reasons.

On Saturday 7 March England take on Wales at Twickenham (4.45pm, live on ITV and S4C) and on Sunday 8 March Scotland face France at Murrayfield (3pm, live on BBC). 

The Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy in Dublin has been postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak in northern Italy. 

9. So long, Sharipova 

Five-time grand slam champion Maria Sharipova yesterday called time on her tennis career after a struggle with shoulder injuries. 

In an essay written for Vogue and Vanity Fair, the 32-year-old said: “Tennis - I’m saying goodbye. Looking back now, I realise that tennis has been my mountain. My path has been filled with valleys and detours, but the views from its peak were incredible.”

The Russian, who announced herself on the world stage by stunning Serena Williams to win Wimbledon as a raw 17-year-old in 2004, was suspended for 15 months in 2016 after testing positive for meldonium.

10. Back pages: City win in Madrid 

“Bernablue” is the headline emblazoned on the back page of the Manchester Evening News, and the delight of the newspaper is shared by the national press after Manchester City’s superb 2-1 victory last night against 13-time European champions Real Madrid.

City boss Pep Guardiola was delighted with his team’s performance but warned that the Champions League last-16 tie is “not over”. 

‘It’s not over yet’: delight for City but Pep warns of a Real fightback 

Today’s back pages

Man City are the Real deal with ‘Bernablue’ win

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