Max Verstappen on Thursday called for more respectful behaviour by Formula One’s new generation of fans as he prepared for the home Grand Prix of Red Bull team-mate Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez.
Verstappen was booed and fans chanted ‘Checo!’ at the last race in Texas.
While Verstappen has soared to a third straight title, his team-mate has been left behind. The Mexican driver’s future with Red Bull appears under threat following a run of lacklustre form as he prepares to race before his home fans.
Red Bull said on Thursday that Verstappen, team boss Christian Horner and motorsport advisor Helmut Marko would be given bodyguards after concerns about their safety.
Perez is expected to also have a security guard among his entourage.
But Verstappen said he had received a warm welcome since arriving in Mexico and he wanted it to stay that way.
“I hope it does not only here, but in general in sport, not just our sport,” he said. “We have gained a lot of new fans in the last few years and maybe they don’t respond and react the same way, but a bit differently.”
The sport has gained exposure in North America with a Netflix series ‘Drive To Survive’, which has exposed tensions between the two Red Bull drivers.
“I think it’s good to show support for your favourite driver but you should always show respect for the others and especially on the podium and during the anthems because then it is very disrespectful in those moments.
“In general, I think we need to raise awareness not just here but in other sport too.”
Speaking to Sky Sports F1 at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, the 26-year-old Dutchman said he had arrived on Tuesday afternoon and had a full day’s appearance work on Wednesday.
“It’s been great,” he said. “I am here to do my job and the welcome has been amazing as always.”
Last Sunday, sections of the big crowd at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin booed and jeered while when Verstappen was introduced on the podium and during the Dutch anthem, when the chants of ‘Checo, Checo’ resonated.
Perez also appealed to his Mexican fans to set an example with good behaviour and played down his perceived rivalry with Verstappen.
“It is very important we give this message, the right message,” he said. “I know the media likes to create rivalry, but we are here in a great sport and we must show an example to younger generations.
“What happens on the track should stay on the track so that we can show an example here to the rest of the world.”
Posters encouraging race fans to be respectful line many of the streets close to the circuit declaring ‘Racespect’, a message Perez said he supported.
Local organisers also said they were strictly controlling the number of guests in the paddock during the weekend following alarming reports last year when drivers and team members were mobbed and jostled.
Sabalenka to play in Brisbane
Aryna Sabalenka will launch preparations for the defence of her Australian Open crown by playing at the Brisbane International, organisers said on Tuesday.
Elena Rybakina – beaten by Sabalenka in the final in Melbourne at the start of this year – will also play at the December 31-January 7 Brisbane event.
Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka was already named in the field as she returns to tennis.
“I’m excited about starting my 2024 Australian season in Brisbane,” world number two Sabalenka said in a statement released by organisers.
“Australia holds a special place in my heart after winning my first Grand Slam there.”
Tournament director Cam Pearson said he was looking forward to welcoming the Belarusian Sabalenka and Moscow-born Kazakh Rybakina, who is fourth in the world.
“We all remember the exciting Australian Open final the girls played at the start of the year,” he told a news conference.
“That has really kicked off what is a pretty exciting rivalry between the two players.”
On the men’s side, fast-rising world number 17 Ben Shelton of the United States will join a draw that also includes three-time Grand Slam winner Andy Murray.
Pearson said he would welcome Australian Nick Kyrgios to the tournament if he recovers from injury in time.
“We would love to have him here, he’s a past champion and a fan favourite but he needs to do what’s best for him and his recovery,” he said.
“If that means he’s playing in January, fantastic.”
Kyrgios had knee surgery in January and then aborted comeback plans at Wimbledon after tearing a ligament in his wrist.
Giro fail to reclaim top La Liga spot
Surprise package Girona failed to return to the top of La Liga on Monday after they were held 1-1 at home by Athletic Bilbao.
Winger Viktor Tsygankov put the hosts ahead 10 minutes after half time but Inaki Williams scored 12 minutes later to claim a point for the away side.
Girona trail league leaders Real Madrid on goal difference after dropping points for just the third time this season, while Athletic climbed to fifth spot.
Athletic had the better of the first half and their best chance fell to Gorka Guruzeta but the striker poked his shot straight at Girona goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga.
Girona had early chances of their own including an Aleix Garcia volley, which he skied over the crossbar, but did not find the rhythm they have found so often this season.
After the break, the hosts broke the deadlock when Tsygankov rifled home.
Williams, who started on the opposite wing from his brother Nico, equalised from a counter-attacking move that started in Athletic’s own box.
The wide man finished smoothly for his sixth league goal of the season as the Basques went looking for their third straight win.
With 10 minutes left, Inaki Williams came close to finding the winner as he cut in from the left but his shot was parried by Gazzaniga.
Inaki Williams was replaced in the final minute of normal time for youngster Adu Ares, but both sides were forced to settle for a point.
On Sunday, Rodrygo sent Real Madrid top with a double in 3-0 win at Cadiz.
Carlo Ancelotti’s Madrid are four points clear of fourth-placed Barcelona, who drew 1-1 at Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.
PCB announces Pakistan team management for Australia tour
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) have announced the Team Management for the upcoming Test tour to Australia, which is scheduled to take place from December 2023 to January 2024. They will be playing three Test matches in Australia.
Former England cricketer Adam Hollioake has been hired as the batting coach. Hollioake played four Tests and 35 ODIs for England. The 52-year-old transitioned into coaching, contributing his expertise to the England Lions team. His coaching abilities were further recognized when he was enlisted to join England’s coaching staff for the final two Ashes Tests during the 2021-22 series.
Meanwhile, Simon Grant Helmot will serve as the high performance coach on the tour. Helmot is an Australian cricket coach, who was formerly the coach of the Melbourne Renegades in Big Bash League.
Last week, Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal were announced as fast-bowling and spin bowling coaches, respectively, for the Pakistan team.
Naveed Akram Cheema (Team manager), Mohammad Hafeez (Director – Pakistan men’s cricket team), Adam Hollioake (batting coach), Simon Grant Helmot (high performance coach), Umar Gul (fast bowling coach), Saeed Ajmal (spin bowling coach), Abdul Majeed (fielding coach), Mansoor Rana (assistant team manager), Shahid Aslam (assistant batting coach), Drikus Saaiman (strength and conditioning coach/Trainer), Cliffe Deacon (physiotherapist), Talha Ejaz (team analyst), Lt Col (Rtd) Akhtar Hussain (security manager), Raza Rashid Kitchlew (media manager), Ammar Ahsan (videographer), Dr Sohail Saleem (team doctor) and Malang Ali (team masseur).
The Pakistan cricket team will play their first Test match against Australia in Perth from 14 to 18 December, followed by a Test match in Melbourne, from 26 to 30 December. Sydney will host the last game of the tour from 3 to 7 January, 2024.
The squad is set to depart from Lahore on 30 November.
Pakistan squad for Australia Tests: Shan Masood (captain), Aamir Jamal, Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Khurram Shahzad, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Noman Ali, Saim Ayub, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Saud Shakeel and Shaheen Shah Afridi.
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