Mercedes F1 engineers have helped to create a breathing aid to keep patients suffering from COVID-19 out of intensive care that has received approval for use by the NHS.

Working with University College London engineers and clinicians at UCLH, the device – which delivers oxygen to the brain without the need for a ventilator – was created in less than a week.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has given its approval for its use.

A Mercedes statement explained: "The breathing aid, known as Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), has been used extensively in hospitals in Italy and China to help Covid-19 patients with serious lung infections to breathe more easily, when oxygen alone is insufficient.

"This breathing aid was produced within a rapid timeframe - it took fewer than 100 hours from the initial meeting to production of the first device. 

"One hundred devices are to be delivered to UCLH for clinical trials, with rapid roll-out to hospitals around the country ahead of the predicted surge in COVID-19 hospital admissions."

The statement added approximately 50 per cent of patients who use CPAP in Italy "avoided the need for invasive mechanical ventilation".

"The Formula 1 community has shown an impressive response to the call for support, coming together in the 'Project Pitlane' collective to support the national need at this time across a number of different projects," said Mercedes HPP chief Andy Cowell.

"We have been proud to put our resources at the service of UCL to deliver the CPAP project to the highest standards and in the fastest possible timeframe."

There have been 19,522 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United Kingdom, with 1,228 having died.

The 2020 Formula One season could include between 15 and 18 races in a revised calendar that will likely run into December, according to Chase Carey.

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, F1 has been forced to delay the start to the new campaign, Azerbaijan becoming the latest Grand Prix to be postponed on Monday.

The season-opener in Australia, due to take place on March 15, and the Monaco event have both been cancelled, with the next race on the original schedule due to take place in Canada on June 14. 

In a statement, F1 chairman and CEO Carey did not reveal an update over a potential start date but made clear the 10 teams and the FIA remain "committed" to delivering a championship, aided by the usual mid-season break being shifted forward to March and April.

As well as Azerbaijan, postponed races in Bahrain, Vietnam, China, the Netherlands and Spain could get new dates, though much depends on developments with the ongoing global pandemic.

"We recognise there is significant potential for additional postponements in currently scheduled events, nonetheless we and our partners fully expect the season to start at some point this summer, with a revised calendar of between 15-18 races, Carey said.

"As previously announced, we will utilise the summer break being brought forward to March/April, to race during the normal summer break period and anticipate the season end date will extend beyond our original end date of 27-29 November, with the actual sequence and schedule dates for races differing significantly from our original 2020 calendar.

"It is not possible to provide a more specific calendar now due to the fluidity of the current situation but we expect to gain clearer insights to the situation in each of our host countries, as well as the issues related to travel to these countries, in the coming month."

In the absence of the usual racing calendar, F1 launched the Virtual Grand Prix Series on Sunday.

Former One Direction singer Liam Payne represented Williams but finished last among the drivers to complete the Bahrain leg - won by Renault test driver Guanyu Zhou - of the Esports tournament.

Formula One CEO Chase Carey apologised to fans for the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic and pledged to resume the 2020 season as soon as possible in an open letter released on Tuesday.

The F1 season was due to resume this past weekend with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, however it was cancelled in the wake of McLaren withdrawing following one of their crew members testing positive for COVID-19.

Races in Bahrain, Vietnam and China have had to be temporarily shelved as well, leaving F1 with a revised start date of May 3.

Ross Brawn, F1's managing director of motorsports, has since suggested the postponed races could take place in August when the season typically takes a four-week break.

Carey was unable to offer much of an update given the "fluidity" of the situation, but he stressed F1 will resume at the earliest possible opportunity.

In an open letter published to the F1 website, Carey wrote: "We wanted to provide some thoughts and perspectives from last week as we address the coronavirus pandemic.

"First and foremost, our priority is the health and safety of the fans, teams, and organisations of Formula One, as well as wider society.

"We apologise to those fans affected by the cancellation in Australia, as well as the postponement of the other races to date. These decisions are being made by Formula One, the FIA, and our local promoters in rapidly changing and evolving circumstances, but we believe they are the right and necessary ones. We also want to extend our thoughts to those already affected, including those in the Formula One family.

"We recognise everyone wants to know what comes next for Formula One in 2020. We cannot provide specific answers today given the fluidity of the situation. However, we plan to get the 2020 Championship season underway as soon as it's safe to do so.

"We are engaging with experts and officials on a daily basis as we evaluate how we go forward in the next few months."

Elite-level sport has been paused across the globe due to the coronavirus pandemic that now has over 150,000 confirmed cases worldwide.

In a bid to contain the spread of the virus, competitions have steadily been halted over recent weeks.

Each of Europe's top five football leagues are off, along with the Champions League, while the NBA came to a sudden stop on Wednesday.

Motorsport was hit as Formula One's Australian Grand Prix was postponed, while cricket, tennis, golf, hockey and, initially to a lesser extent, rugby all also took stock.

In a peculiar period with a vastly reduced sporting schedule, a number of stars were therefore left to make alternative plans.

Reigning NBA MVP and leading 2019-20 candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo did not last long before he commented on the boredom he was enduring in the absence of basketball.

The Greek Freak posted on Twitter late on Friday: "If this is how my life is going to be after basketball, I'm not retiring for a long time. #25yearCareer"

Antetokounmpo tagged his girlfriend Mariah Riddlesprigger, who replied: "You will literally drive me crazy so the longer the better."

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James was revelling in some family time, however, marking Friday 13 by watching a horror movie.

James then filmed his children as they performed a dance for their TikTok accounts, which their famous father promoted on his Instagram story.

F1 champion Lewis Hamilton found a different way to spend his time as the start of the new season was delayed, meanwhile.

"Gutted to not be qualifying today," he wrote on Saturday. "I decided to stick around Melbourne and go indoor rock climbing. It's a great way for me to keep focused."

Hamilton may not have been out on the track, but European Tour golfer Matthias Schwab was – virtually.

The Austrian shared a clip as he multi-tasked, playing a motorsport videogame while keeping fit on his exercise bike.

Elsewhere, Real Madrid had been due to take to the field on Friday before LaLiga went into lockdown, but Sergio Ramos entertained himself and his family.

The Madrid captain uploaded an image to his Instagram story of he and two of his children sporting matching hairstyles.

Ramos added two hashtags, reading, "I stay at home," "We stay at home".

Inter's on-loan Manchester United striker Alexis Sanchez was among the other players left to train at home, and he called his dogs in to help.

The Chile international posted a video, set to Cyndi Lauper's Girls Just Want To Have Fun, as he juggled a ball with his dogs in pursuit.

Ross Brawn said races could be staged during August as part of a reshuffle of the 2020 Formula One calendar. 

The season is currently scheduled to start on May 3 with the Dutch Grand Prix, after races in Australia, Bahrain, Vietnam and China were cancelled or postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Brawn, F1's managing director of motorsports, said the four-week period in August - when the season typically takes a break - could be used to reschedule missed races. 

"Maybe we take a hiatus, we take a pause, and then we use that opportunity to say, 'Right, for this time at the beginning of the year we won't have any races, we'll look at relocating those races later in the year’," he told Sky Sports. 

"I think by freeing up the August break, we give ourselves several weekends where we can have a race. And I think we can build a pretty decent calendar for the rest of the year. 

"It will look different, but it will still preserve a good number of races, and they're exciting races. So, the season's going to start later, but I think it will be just as entertaining." 

The organisers of the Dutch and Spanish Grands Prix are in consultation with F1 and motorsport governing body the FIA, with the end of May said to be a more likely target for hosting those events. 

Brawn offered a positive outlook on the chances of completing the season, despite admitting the sport is in "unchartered territory". 

He said: "I'm pretty optimistic that we can have a good 17-to-18-race championship or more. 

"I think we can squeeze them in. But it depends on when the season will start." 

Formula One champion and Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton should not join Ferrari, according to former chief Bernie Ecclestone.

Hamilton is in the final year of his Mercedes deal and the six-time F1 world champion continues to be linked with a move to rivals Ferrari.

The 35-year-old driver – whose title defence has been put on hold after the season-opening Australian Grand Prix was cancelled due to coronavirus – is in no hurry to hold negotiations, while Mercedes are relaxed amid the speculation.

Ex-F1 supremo Ecclestone does not believe Hamilton should swap Mercedes for Ferrari at the end of the 2020 season.

"If I were Lewis I would stay at Mercedes," Ecclestone, 89, told the Daily Mail.

"He is comfortable there. He is in charge. He's got the guy who turns the lights on and off supporting him [team principal Toto Wolff].

"It wouldn't work at Ferrari for him. They are Italians. He would have to really learn the language so he'd know what they were saying behind his back, for a start.

"The problem with all the Italians, they don't want a fight, don't want an argument with anyone. Instead of saying to someone who is doing a bad job, 'Sort yourself out or I'll sort you out — please yourself, but I want results,' they say, 'Let's have dinner so we can talk about it. Be friends'.

"If I were a team boss I'd sign Max [Verstappen from Red Bull]. He's quick and easy to deal with. If I had Lewis I'd just tell him what time the next race starts and say be there for then. Apart from that he could do whatever he wants.

"I'd cut his pay and let him do his own sponsorship, anything. Mercedes try to rein him in a bit. I'd give him total freedom."

 

Formula One chief executive Chase Carey hit back at Lewis Hamilton's claim that "cash is king" after cancelling the Australian Grand Prix.

Hamilton had on Thursday questioned the decision to go ahead with the opening race of the F1 season, a day before it was cancelled due to coronavirus fears.

The Mercedes star said "cash is king" when asked why the race was going ahead, but Carey hit back at that suggestion on Friday.

"I guess if cash was king we wouldn't have made the decision we did today," he told a news conference.

"In hindsight obviously things look different. There were events that evolved, situations that changed.

"We made a decision which given the lead time to come here, hold the event, at a point in time where major events were being held here, it was a different situation in the world, travelled, came, as the situation changed day to day and in some ways hour to hour obviously we continued to evaluate that and make the appropriate decisions going forward.

"I do think we were trying to digest a lot of different information to make the right decision at the right time and I think we did that."

Australian Grand Prix organisers are still hopeful the race may be held at another time in 2020, but uncertainty remains over the schedule.

Carey said decisions would be made in the coming days relating to upcoming events, with the Bahrain Grand Prix scheduled to be held behind closed doors on March 22.

"At this point our focus is really dealing with the issues this weekend," he said.

"Clearly I just came in from Vietnam so we are in discussion with partners about the upcoming races, but I think at this point what we really want to do is deal with the issues here and deal with them properly, but in the coming days clearly we will be addressing the events yet to come.

"It's a pretty difficult situation to really predict. Everybody is using the word fluid, it is obviously a fluid situation, the situation today is different than it was two days ago which is different than it was four days ago."

Lewis Hamilton backed the decision to cancel the Australian Grand Prix amid coronavirus fears.

Formula One announced on Friday it had cancelled the opening race of the season, which was due to be held in Melbourne on Sunday.

McLaren had already pulled out of the race after a member of their crew tested positive for coronavirus.

Mercedes star and six-time world champion Hamilton, who questioned the race going ahead during a news conference on Thursday, said it was the right call.

"Sadly, this is the right decision," he wrote on Twitter.

"No one wants this, we all want to get in our cars and get racing, but we have to be realistic and we must put health and safety first.

"The reality is, this is really serious with people dying every day, lots of people ill and even if they are not ill, many people being affected financially and emotionally.

"No one really knows the extent of what we are dealing with, but we should all take precautions to keep as many people as safe as possible.

"I know it's disappointing, as sport unites us when times are tough, but it's the right call. Listen to the advice everyone, keep safe.

"Hope to be back racing soon but in the meantime look after yourselves."

The Bahrain Grand Prix is scheduled to go ahead behind closed doors on March 22.

The coronavirus has killed almost 5,000 people worldwide, while there have been more than 134,000 cases.

Lewis Hamilton questioned the decision to go ahead with the Australian Grand Prix amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying he was "very surprised".

The Mercedes star will be aiming to make a winning start to the Formula One season in Melbourne on Sunday.

But it comes despite more than 4,600 people dying and more than 126,000 contracting coronavirus, which has impacted countries and sports around the world.

Hamilton admitted he was shocked to see the F1 campaign beginning as planned, with the NBA the latest competition affected as it suspended its season on Wednesday.

"I am very, very surprised we are here," the Brit told a news conference on Thursday.

"It is great we have races but for me it is shocking that we are all sitting in this room.

"It seems like the rest of the world is reacting, probably a bit late. The NBA has been suspended yet F1 continues to go on."

Reports suggest several F1 staff are awaiting the results of tests for coronavirus.

Hamilton, a six-time world champion, urged fans to remain cautious during the weekend.

"The fact is we are here and I just encourage everyone to be as careful as you can be in touching doors and surfaces and I hope everyone has hand sanitiser," he said.

''I really, really hope the fans take precautions. Walking through and seeing everything go ahead as normal, just like a normal day."

Lewis Hamilton will begin the defence of his Formula One drivers' title as the 2020 campaign gets under way with the Australian Grand Prix.

Mercedes driver Hamilton is a six-time world champion and now within one crown of tying Michael Schumacher for the all-time record of seven.

The race in Australia, which begins at 16:10 local time (05:10 GMT) on Sunday, will be the first chance to assess the prospects of the top teams and drivers at the start of the final season before sweeping changes are made to the regulations.

Chief competition for Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas is again expected to come from Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel, plus Red Bull, whose lead driver Max Verstappen is partnered by Alex Albon.
 

LAST TIME OUT

This is the first race for more than three months, with the last event of the 2019 season having been the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in December.

That grand prix was one of the least exciting of the campaign and saw Hamilton crown his title success with a dominant race victory, winning from pole position with Verstappen and Leclerc making up the remaining podium places.

Bottas charged through from the back of the grid to finish fourth, ahead of Vettel and Albon.
 

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR IN AUSTRALIA

While pre-season testing provides a guide, no one truly knows where each team stands with their 2020 cars until we have seen them in full competitive action.

We should get the clearest idea yet of where Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari sit in the pecking order, and how significant the gaps are, with the title contenders eager to strike an early blow in the first of 22 races.

Further down the grid, McLaren are hoping to push on from their fourth-place finish last year as they retain their driver line-up of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris. Renault will hope for better in their second season with Daniel Ricciardo, who will be partnered at his home race by new arrival Esteban Ocon, and Racing Point want to be in the mix.

Since his last win in Australia, Hamilton has finished second in four straight races at Albert Park. Former team-mate Nico Rosberg and current partner Bottas have won two of those races, with Vettel triumphing in 2017 and 2018 for Ferrari.


TOP FIVE OPTA STATS

Another record in sight - Hamilton has a record eight pole positions in Australia, including the last six in a row from 2014 to 2019. If he reaches nine, he will be the first F1 driver in history to hit that level at a single circuit.

Fantastic four - Vettel is one win away from equalling Michael Schumacher as the driver with the most wins in Australia (four). If the German wins, he would equal his total for all of last season (one win).

Can he go back to back? - Bottas, the winner of last year's race, is hoping to win for a second time at the same Grand Prix, a feat he is yet to achieve in his F1 career.

Five years on - Race day will mark exactly five years since Verstappen's first F1 race, which also took place in Australia.

No home glory - An Australian driver has never won, been in pole position, or reached the podium in 35 editions of this Formula One Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton is the best he has ever been and it is "nuts" that he is on the brink of equalling Michael Schumacher's all-time record for world championships, according to Nico Rosberg.

A new Formula One season begins this week with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

Victory for Hamilton in the 2020 drivers' championship would see him draw level with Ferrari great Schumacher on seven titles.

Rosberg and Hamilton were team-mates at Mercedes for four seasons and became bitter rivals by the end of their time together, with the German retiring after winning the 2016 world title.

Mercedes have won six consecutive driver and constructor doubles, with Rosberg feeling Hamilton is at the peak of his powers going into a campaign where he can make history.

"He's the favourite going into the season, definitely, because he's unbeaten for many years now and he has such an amazing team," Rosberg, Heineken's 'When You Drive, Never Drink' ambassador, told Stats Perform.

"He's driving so well, so consistent. For the last couple of years now it's been the best Lewis Hamilton I think that he has ever been, so it's really impressive and it's going to be hard for anybody to beat him."

As well as equalling Schumacher's mark of world titles, Hamilton is within seven of Schumacher's 91 grand prix wins.

Rosberg added: "Unbelievable, even to think of that is just nuts. 

"He has a chance to become the greatest of all time this year, to equal Schumacher and to maybe beat him on the race wins, that would make him the greatest of all time statistically. So it's absolutely incredible, impressive."

This season will be the last under the current regulations and Rosberg is hopeful the 2021 changes being brought in by the FIA, with former Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn playing a key role, will make F1 a better product in the future.

"Ross Brawn did the new regulations, technically, and he is the greatest technical genius we've ever had in our sport - he's done such a great job with his team," added Rosberg.

"So I'm convinced the sport is going to take another step forward. It can just become even more awesome, even more entertaining, more unpredictable, more overtaking. 

"That's what we all want to see and I'm certain they are going in the right direction so it's going to be wonderful to watch that unfold."


Rosberg was speaking following the launch of Heineken's 'When You Drive, Never Drink' campaign, for which he has starred in a TV commercial alongside his father, fellow F1 world champion Keke Rosberg.

Seven Formula One teams have joined forces to oppose the FIA's decision to reach a private settlement with Ferrari over an investigation into their 2019 engine.

Last week, motorsport's governing body said an agreement was reached with the Scuderia over a long-running analysis into the outfit's power unit amid questions raised by the car's impressive straight-line speed.

Ferrari always denied any wrongdoing but a collection of rival teams released a joint statement to voice a "strong objection".

Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren, Renault, Racing Point, Alpha Tauri and Williams co-signed the letter. Haas and Alfa Romeo – who both use Ferrari engines – did not sign.

The teams say they are exploring the next steps, which could involve legal action to ensure "full and proper disclosure" from the FIA. 

"We, the undersigned teams, were surprised and shocked by the FIA's statement of Friday 28 February regarding the conclusion of its investigation into the Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1 Power Unit," the statement read.

"An international sporting regulator has the responsibility to act with the highest standards of governance, integrity and transparency.

"After months of investigations that were undertaken by the FIA only following queries raised by other teams, we strongly object to the FIA reaching a confidential settlement agreement with Ferrari to conclude this matter.

"Therefore, we hereby state publicly our shared commitment to pursue full and proper disclosure in this matter, to ensure that our sport treats all competitors fairly and equally. We do so on behalf of the fans, the participants and the stakeholders of Formula One.

"In addition, we reserve our rights to seek legal redress, within the FIA's due process and before the competent courts."

Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes broke down on day two of Formula One pre-season testing in Barcelona.

The six-time F1 world champion's W11 ground to a halt during the afternoon session at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Thursday.

Hamilton had to wait at the side of the track as the red flags were waved before his car was taken back to the garage.

Mercedes tweeted: "W11 is back in the garage. The team will now take a look to identify the issue which caused Lewis to stop on track."

The team later revealed Hamilton's car was troubled by "an oil pressure anomaly".

"@LewisHamilton stopped on track due to an oil pressure anomaly, which made the engine shut down as a precautionary measure," Mercedes said on Twitter.

"We will keep investigating further but unfortunately that concludes our running for the day."

The malfunction occurred just a fortnight before Hamilton starts the defence of his title at the Australian Grand Prix.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel topped the leaderboard in the morning session after spinning into the gravel, while Red Bull driver Max Verstappen spun twice.

Hamilton was seventh-fastest on day one of testing after clocking up 89 laps.

Lewis Hamilton is still in no rush to enter contract talks with Mercedes amid "crazy" speculation over his future.

The six-time Formula One world champion is in the final year of his deal and continues to be linked with a move to Ferrari.

Hamilton reiterated that he is not in a hurry to hold negotiations with the Silver Arrows, but expects to get around the table in the near future as the 35-year-old prepares to start the defence of his title next month.

"We haven't sat down and talked yet," said the Briton as he and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff talked to Sky Sports F1.

"It's crazy because there's all these talks in the media and everything.

"I have a certain approach normally in the sense that I don't stress. I trust Toto and we have that trust between us.

"We have told each other basically what our goals are, and what our aims are, and our commitments and so I don't ever feel there's necessarily always a rush.

"But sometimes Toto's like 'is everything okay?'. So we always keep the channel open and I'm sure in the near future we'll start to sit down. But I don't feel stressed."

Team principal Wolff is also relaxed about Hamilton's future.

The German said: "I texted Lewis the other day and [said] I'm reading all these comments in the press about our negotiations and that Lewis is asking for so much money – we have never talked about it. It's all made up.

"Then I said maybe we should sit down one day and have the chat. But I think I know so well where he's going to go, you know where I am, it's about finding a day where we spend a few hours together. That's what we've done in the past."

Mercedes' radical 'dual axis steering' system looks set to be banned from Formula One in the 2021 season.

The constructors' champions introduced the new technology - also known by his acronym 'DAS' - at this week's testing session in Barcelona.

Discussions over its eye-catching appearance and effect are set to continue into the 2020 campaign, with Mercedes looking to have developed a new tool to push the team even further forward at least in the short term.

World champion Lewis Hamilton was shown on his car's on-board camera to be adjusting his steering column in practice, pulling it towards him and pushing it away.

That was said to result in small changes to the toe angle of the wheels - their alignment when the steering is set straight - and Mercedes technical director James Allison has said DAS offers drivers "an extra dimension of control".

However, amid a slew of changes to Formula One's rules that will come into effect next year, there are defined restrictions on steering mechanisms.

The 2021 rules state: "The re-alignment of the steered wheels, as defined by the position of the inboard attachment of the relevant suspensions members that remain a fixed distance from each other, must be uniquely defined by a monotonic function of the rotational position of a single steering wheel."

The BBC reported on Friday that Michael Masi, race director of governing body the FIA, confirmed the rule amendment would affect DAS.

Masi is quoted as saying on the BBC Sport website: "We will see what teams can come up with within those boundaries of what the regulations are written for in 2021

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