Irish abortion referendum: How it all unfolded

The Republic of Ireland has voted overwhelmingly to overturn the abortion ban by 66.4% to 33.6%.



Champions League final: Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah suffers suspected dislocated shoulder

Mohamed Salah scored two goals against Roma in the Champions League semi-final

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah was forced out of the Champions League final against Real Madrid after suffering a suspected dislocated shoulder.

Forward Salah, who has scored 44 goals for the club this season, was hurt after being pulled down by Real captain Sergio Ramos in the 26th minute.

The Egypt international tried to carry on but broke down in tears and was replaced by Adam Lallana at 0-0.

Salah is due to represent his country at the World Cup this summer.

The 25-year-old has enjoyed an excellent first season at Anfield after joining from Roma for £34m last June.

Salah was leading scorer in the Premier League with 32 goals as Jurgen Klopp’s side finished fourth in the table – the record for most goals in a 38-game season.

Liverpool had nine shots with Salah on the pitch in Kiev and none in the remainder of the first half after he was subbed off.

Real Madrid were also forced to make an early substitution after defender Dani Carvajal seemed to hurt himself while trying a backheel.

The Spaniard was also in tears as he left the pitch to be replaced by Nacho.

Mohamed Salah won the Premier League’s Player of the Season award

‘Egypt in tears over Salah’

Analysis: Egyptian football journalist Marwan Ahmed to BBC World Service’s Sportsworld programme

Honestly, I think it’s a nightmare. There are no words to describe it. There was a minute of silence after we’d seen Salah go down and then when he went down the second time, we knew it wasn’t good and that he would leave the pitch.

No Egyptian wanted to see that happen, we’ve never had an Egyptian in the Champions League final. It’s really sad – I can’t find the exact words to describe it. Some people were in tears.

I hope it won’t affect his World Cup chances. He’s the greatest player in Egypt’s history, we haven’t reached the World Cup for 28 years and we’re just too close for all of our dreams to be shattered.



France wine auction: 1774 Vin Jaune fetches record price

A Vin Jaune wine bottle from 1774 (file photo) Image copyright AFP
Image caption The wine was made using grapes harvested during the reign of King Louis XVI

A bottle of wine dating back to 1774 has sold at auction in eastern France for a record €103,700 ($120,800).

The bottle of Vin Jaune (yellow wine) comes from the eastern Jura region and was made using grapes harvested during the reign of King Louis XVI.

At the same auction, another bottle of the same vintage fetched €76,250, and a third was sold for €73,200.

The three 87cl bottles of Vin Jaune were made by the winemaker Anatoile Vercel.

They were in the possession of his descendents in Arbois, the winemaking heart of the Jura region, and are believed to be among the oldest existing wines in the world.

  • Georgia made ‘world’s oldest wine’
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The buyers were Canadians and someone who used to purchase wine for Americans with links to France, AFP news agency quoted auctioneer Brigitte Fenaux, of the Jura Encheres auction house, as saying.

“I didn’t think that these bottles would sell for so much. The last record set in 2011 was €57,000,” she said.

“There were winemakers in the room who applauded, who were happy, it was moving.”

AFP reports that in 1994, a tasting panel of 24 wine experts rated the wine as a 9.4 out of 10.



Champions League final: Real Madrid v Liverpool – rate the players out of 10

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Rate players out of 10 throughout or after the game. The rater will close 30 minutes after the final whistle.

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Real Madrid

  1. Squad number1Player nameNavas

  2. Squad number2Player nameCarvajal

  3. Squad number5Player nameVarane

  4. Squad number4Player nameRamos

  5. Squad number12Player nameMarcelo

  6. Squad number10Player nameModric

  7. Squad number14Player nameCasemiro

  8. Squad number8Player nameKroos

  9. Squad number22Player nameIsco

  10. Squad number9Player nameBenzema

  11. Squad number7Player nameRonaldo

  1. Squad number6Player nameNacho

  2. Squad number11Player nameBale

  3. Squad number20Player nameAsensio


  1. Squad number20Player nameLallana

  2. Squad number23Player nameCan



Joshua Holt case: Venezuela confirms release of US prisoner

Joshua Holt, 25, and his wife Thamy Candelo pictured together Image copyright Laurie Moon Holt Facebook account
Image caption Joshua Holt travelled to Caracas to marry his Venezuelan girlfriend Thamy Candelo

A US citizen imprisoned in Venezuela has been released after spending two years in jail on charges of concealing weapons, Venezuelan authorities say.

Joshua Holt and his Venezuelan partner Thamy are returning to the US on the orders of President Nicolás Maduro, a Venezuelan government minister said.

US President Donald Trump earlier tweeted that he was “looking forward” to seeing Mr Holt at the White House.

US Senator Bob Corker met Mr Maduro for talks in Caracas on Friday.

A spokesman for Mr Maduro said the couple’s release was a “gesture” aimed at improving dialogue between Caracas and Washington.

Mr Maduro was re-elected to a six-year term last week but Washington has not recognised the outcome.

Venezuela had not discussed the nature of the talks with Mr Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but said they were “good news for the Venezuelan people”.

The US has previously accused Venezuela of using Mr Holt as a bargaining chip towards changing Washington’s sanctions policy on the country.

Mr Trump said he expected the freed man and his family to be at the White House by 19:00 local time (23:00 GMT).

The president said the people of Utah would be “very happy”.

Mr Holt is a former Mormon missionary from Utah who had travelled to Caracas in June 2016 to marry his Venezuelan girlfriend, Thamy Candelo.

She is also a Mormon and the couple intended that Ms Candelo and her children would move with Mr Holt to the US following the marriage.

While waiting for their US visas, Mr Holt and his wife were detained in her family’s house in Caracas and accused of hiding weapons.

Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, who said he had worked with two presidential administrations and various contacts, including President Maduro, on the release, said that he “could not be more honoured to be able to reunite Josh with his sweet, long-suffering family”.

Mr Maduro has frequently accused the US of trying to overthrow him and the US has tightened sanctions recently.

Only on Tuesday he expelled the senior US representative in the country, Todd Robinson.

Venezuela is in a five-year economic crisis, suffering from hyperinflation and severe shortages in food and medicine.

Turnout was low in last Sunday’s election, boycotted by much of the opposition. Mr Maduro was credited with winning 68% of the vote.



Ireland abortion referendum: UK minister hopes for NI law change

Pro choice campaigners in Belfast Image copyright AFP

A landslide vote in favour of overturning Ireland’s abortion ban gives “hope” to Northern Ireland, UK minister Penny Mordaunt has said.

The referendum result has sparked calls for the issue to be reassessed in Northern Ireland, where laws are much stricter than the rest of the UK.

But Democratic Unionist MP Ian Paisley said it “should not be bullied into accepting abortion on demand”.

Voters in the Irish referendum backed a law change by 66.4% to 33.6%.

Following that result, Northern Ireland will soon become the only part of Britain and Ireland where terminations are all but outlawed.

Those taking part in Ireland’s referendum were asked whether they wanted to repeal or retain a part of the constitution known as the Eighth Amendment, which says an unborn child has the same right to life as a pregnant woman.

The vote in favour of repeal paves the way for the Dáil (Irish Parliament) to legislate for change which would see the introduction of a much more liberal regime.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the referendum result was “a fantastic victory for women’s rights”.

After early results suggested a landslide, women and equalities minister Ms Mordaunt tweeted that it was a “historic” day for Ireland and a “hopeful” day for Northern Ireland, adding “that hope must be met”.

Abortions are only allowed in Northern Ireland if a woman’s life is at risk or there is a permanent or serious risk to her physical or mental health.

Rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormalities are not circumstances in which they can be performed legally.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said the UK government should take advantage of the current lack of a devolved administration in Northern Ireland.

He said: “Since there is, effectively, direct rule from Westminster, the government has responsibility and it can and should take the opportunity to deal with this issue properly.

“The position in Northern Ireland is now highly anomalous and I think, probably, action will now have to be taken.”

The leader of the Alliance Party in Northern Ireland, Naomi Long, responded to Ms Mordaunt by saying she could “effect change” in Northern Ireland and should use her “influence with others to ensure this happens”.

Labour MP Stella Creasy also responded, tweeting that she hoped Ms Mordaunt would “stand up to colleagues in government stopping reform of our UK abortion laws”.

‘Power in Westminster’

The United Nations said in a report published in February that the UK frequently violated women’s rights in Northern Ireland by restricting access to abortion.

And Amnesty International, which campaigned for the yes vote in the Republic, said nearly “three-quarters of people” in Northern Ireland wanted to see a change in abortion laws.

Colm O’Gorman, of Amnesty International Ireland, told Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s entirely unacceptable that women and girls there still have to travel over to Britain to access abortion care.”

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service, a charity which provides abortions, said the UK government “cannot continue to try and absolve itself of their responsibility to these women”.

Clare Murphy, a director of the charity, said: “While the government can say that abortion is a devolved issue, human rights are not, and the collapse of the NI Assembly means that the power to right this wrong lies solely in Westminster.”



Irish abortion referendum: Ireland overturns abortion ban

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Media captionReturning Officer Barry Ryan delivered the results in Irish and English

The Republic of Ireland has voted overwhelmingly to overturn the abortion ban by 66.4% to 33.6%.

A referendum held on Friday resulted in a landslide win for the repeal side.

Currently, abortion is only allowed when a woman’s life is at risk, but not in cases of rape, incest or fatal foetal abnormality.

The Eighth Amendment, which grants an equal right to life to the mother and unborn, will be replaced.

The declaration was made at Dublin Castle at 18:13 local time.

The only constituency to vote against repealing the Eighth amendment was Donegal, with 51.9% voting against the change.

Image caption Crowds celebrate outside Dublin Castle after the result was announced

A vote in favour of repeal paves the way for the Dáil (Irish Parliament) to legislate for change which would see the introduction of a much more liberal regime.

In 2015 the country voted overwhelmingly to legalise same-sex marriage in a historic referendum.

‘Burden of shame is gone’

Reacting to the result, the taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar, who campaigned in favour of liberalisation, said it was “a historic day for Ireland,” and that a “quiet revolution” had taken place.

Mr Varadkar told crowds at Dublin Castle the result showed the Irish public “trust and respect women to make their own decision and choices.”

He added: “It’s also a day when we say no more. No more to doctors telling their patients there’s nothing can be done for them in their own country, no more lonely journeys across the Irish Sea, no more stigma as the veil of secrecy is lifted and no more isolation as the burden of shame is gone.”

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Media captionIrish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar: “Today we say no more”

He said that some had voted yes with “pride”, but many had voted yes with “sorrowful acceptance and heavy hearts”.

Mr Varadkar said he understood that those who had voted against repeal would be unhappy.

He said he had a message for them: “I know today is not welcome and you may feel this country has taken the wrong turn, that this country is one you no longer recognise.

“I want to reassure you that Ireland today is the same as it was last week, but more tolerant, open and respectful.”

He said by and large it had been a respectful campaign.

He added: “We voted to look reality in the eye and we did not blink.

“We choose to provide companionship where there was once a cold shoulder and medical care where we once turned a blind eye”.

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Media captionIreland votes in abortion referendum

Mr Varadkar said he hoped to have a new abortion law enacted by the end of this year.

At the scene: Kelly-Leigh Cooper, BBC News

The people behind the Repeal campaign were always hopeful of a positive outcome today – but no-one can quite believe they have received such a resounding Yes from the Irish public.

Tears streamed as they watched the poll predictions come true throughout Saturday.

For those who have campaigned tirelessly and helped women in crisis for years – this moment is long overdue.

A celebratory atmosphere has swept across much of the Irish capital. It’s impossible to avoid Repeal jumpers and Yes stickers worn proudly on chests everywhere.

Many supporters gathered at the castle (the same place the same-sex marriage results were welcomed three years ago) to celebrate together as results rolled in.

Hugs are being given and cheers of “yes, yes yes,” are filling the air.

‘Continue to protest’

Counting began at 09:00.

After the polls were published, one of the main anti-abortion campaigns conceded it had lost the vote.

Image caption Repeal campaigners celebrate at Dublin Castle, where the result was announced

The Save The 8th campaign described the result as a “tragedy of historic proportions”.

“The unborn child no longer has a right to life recognised by the Irish state,” said its spokesman John McGuirk.

However, he vowed that No campaigners would continue to protest, “if and when abortion clinics are opened in Ireland”.

The leader of the main Irish opposition party, Micheál Martin of Fianna Fáil, said the vote was the “dawn of a new era”.

He said he had wrestled with the issue, but added the people had made the right decision and it would mean better care for women in Irish hospitals.

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald, whose party campaigned in favour of a Yes vote, said: “We have without doubt done right by Irish women for this generation and many to come.”

Amnesty International hailed the result as a “momentous win for women’s rights” that “marks the beginning of a new Ireland”.

Northern Ireland’s abortion laws

The vote will have repercussions for women north of the border, as Northern Ireland has the strictest abortion laws in the UK.

Cases of rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormality are not considered grounds for a legal termination.

The UK’s Women and Equalities Minister Penny Mordaunt said the predicted landslide vote gave “hope” to Northern Ireland.

Image copyright PA
Image caption It has been an emotive campaign with harrowing stories on both sides

Grainne Teggart of Amnesty International UK said the people of Ireland have “given hope to women around the world”. But she added Northern Ireland is still subject to restrictive abortion laws.

“It’s hypocritical, degrading and insulting to Northern Irish women that we are forced to travel for vital healthcare services but cannot access them at home,” Ms Teggart said.

“We cannot be left behind in a corner of the UK and on the island of Ireland as second-class citizens.”

Former Northern Ireland health minister Jim Wells said the expected result was a “grave threat” to the unborn child in Northern Ireland.

Mr Wells, a Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) politician, claimed it was “inevitable” that abortion clinics would be set up in border towns to “promote their services to Northern Ireland women”.

“It will be much easier to terminate a child’s life if this can be done at a clinic in Dundalk or Letterkenny rather than flying to London or Manchester,” he added.



Fulham promoted after beating Villa

Fulham lift the Championship play-off final trophy after beating Aston Villa 1-0 at Wembley

Fulham have been promoted to the Premier League after beating Aston Villa in the Championship play-off final at Wembley.

Captain Tom Cairney was their goalscorer, finishing neatly underneath Villa goalkeeper Sam Johnstone after latching onto Ryan Sessegnon’s pass midway through the first half.

A fractious game ended with Fulham down to 10 men after centre-back Denis Odoi was sent off for two bookable offences – both for fouls on Jack Grealish.

Villa were furious that Ryan Fredericks escaped a card during a first-half tangle with Grealish, the Fulham right-back landing studs first on Grealish’s leg, while the Villa man was later booked for a lunging tackle on Cairney.

Several Villa penalty appeals were also waved away by referee Anthony Taylor, including one in second-half stoppage time when Grealish fell under a challenge from Matt Targett.

The game opened up after the interval, with Villa much more incisive and Grealish looking most likely to find a reply.

However, the midfielder headed over the bar under pressure from Marcus Bettinelli and then saw his mazy run thwarted by a combination of the Fulham goalkeeper and Kevin McDonald.

Odoi’s red card invited further pressure, but Fulham held firm during a late Villa onslaught to clinch a win that is worth an estimated £160m – a figure which financial experts Deloitte say could rise to as much as £280m if the Whites survive for more than one season in the top flight.

Captain Cairney secures promotion

It was perhaps fitting that Sessegnon and Cairney, the two shining lights in an impressive Fulham team this season, combined to score the goal that sent them back to the top flight after a four-year absence.

The pair were two of the three nominees for the EFL’s Championship Player of the Season award, which was won by teenager Sessegnon.

The 18-year-old winger had been largely anonymous early on, but he found space in the centre of the Villa half and picked his pass perfectly to find the onrushing Cairney, who slotted coolly into the net.

Ryan Sessegnon and Tom Cairney celebrate after combining for Fulham’s winning goal

Sessegnon could have doubled Fulham’s lead before half-time but his back-post header was directed straight at Johnstone, while he almost set up Stefan Johansen for a second goal midway through the second period.

“We’ve suffered for three years, not just in the second half,” said Fulham head coach Slavisa Jokanovic, who won promotion as Watford boss in 2015 but left the Hornets before he got the chance to take charge of them in the Premier League.

“It’s not been easy since I’ve been at this place. We’ve shown with our style that we can be one of the best Championship teams, and we’ve shown we can be solid, organised and fighting altogether for a clean sheet.”

Fulham back in the big time

Fulham’s transformation from mid-table underperformers to promotion winners has been one of the feature points of the Championship season.

Defeat at struggling Sunderland on 16 December left them 12th in the table, 18 points behind the top two. Twenty-three unbeaten matches later, they were on the brink of automatic promotion and, had they won their final game at Birmingham, they would have finished second behind champions Wolves.

There was to be no repeat of last season’s play-off disappointment, though. The Whites saw off Derby over two legs in their semi-final before beating Villa at Wembley.

Tom Cairney wheels away in delight after putting Fulham ahead midway through the first half

While many have played their part, two January loan additions have been critical to their success. Newcastle striker Aleksandar Mitrovic has netted 12 goals in 20 appearances and given the team a physical presence up front, while the arrival of Southampton left-back Targett has allowed Sessegnon to push further forward and excel in a more advanced position.

Fulham spent 13 successive seasons in the top flight before their relegation in 2014 and the hope is that the nucleus of this team, helped by the financial backing of owner Shahid Khan, can see them become an established Premier League club again.

Their possession-based style has been as eye-catching as anything on show in the second tier and that brand of football should transfer well to the higher level, although there is very little top-flight experience in Fulham’s ranks and that is likely to be an area that Jokanovic will look to address in the next couple of months.

Fredericks should have been sent off – Bruce

On another day, Villa could have been awarded at least one penalty and had a man advantage for more than an hour.

In particular it was the Fredericks incident, which occurred right in front of the two dugouts immediately after Cairney’s winning goal, that most angered Villa boss Steve Bruce.

“There were big decisions that went against us,” said the former Manchester United captain, who failed to win a record fifth promotion from the second tier.

“For me, the boy should have had a red card very early. It was right in front of the referee and the fourth official, and for me he stamps on him.

“Nobody wants to see people sent off, but when it’s as deliberate as that, he deserved a red card.

“There might have been a penalty in the second half, but what we can’t disguise is that we didn’t do enough in the first half.

“You just need a break and unfortunately we didn’t get it.”

What next for Villa?

Many Villa fans will look back at this season and wonder what might have been.

What if talismanic midfielder Grealish had not sustained a freakish kidney injury that caused him to miss the first three months of the campaign?

What if striker Jonathan Kodjia had not suffered another long-term injury that wrecked his second season with the club?

And what if a possible season-defining 4-1 win over leaders Wolves in March, which left them four points off second place with 10 matches remaining and looked to have kick-started an automatic promotion push, had not been followed by miserable defeats by lowly QPR and Bolton?

Villa have spent heavily in the past two seasons in their bid to return to the top flight, but they will have to cut their cloth accordingly as they prepare for a third successive season in the second tier.

John Terry consoles Aston Villa team-mate Jack Grealish after the final whistle

Grealish was their stand-out performer at Wembley. He was outstanding, almost scored one of the best goals ever in a play-off final and did not deserve to be on the losing side.

His consistent form in the second half of the campaign has been a huge positive for Villa and he is sure to be a target for Premier League clubs this summer, so keeping the 22-year-old at Villa Park will be paramount to Bruce’s side mounting another challenge for promotion next season.

“The discussions have got to be had above me to say what we’ve got and what we haven’t got,” said Bruce, who added it is up to veteran captain John Terry to decide whether he will play on at Villa Park next season.

“Of course there will be speculation about Jack. Personally, I would like him to stay. Another year with us would do him the world of good.

“We’d love to have given him the platform of the Premier League and we haven’t, but he’s playing regular football week in and week out. We’ll see what happens.”



Monaco Grand Prix: All you need to know after Red Bull’s mixed day in Monte Carlo

Follow Sunday’s race on the BBC Sport website from 12:30 BST and on Radio 5 live from 14:00

It would be hard to find a bigger contrast in moods than that between the two Red Bull drivers after qualifying at the Monaco Grand Prix.

Daniel Ricciardo’s neon grin was even bigger than usual after taking a pole position that, all things being equal, he ought to convert into an overdue first win around the streets of the Principality.

On the other side of the garage, Max Verstappen, who had been nip and tuck with Ricciardo throughout a weekend the team have dominated, looked like a child who had been told the dog had chewed his favourite toy.

Verstappen had not been able to take part in qualifying after a crash late in final practice. The team had got the car ready just in time, but then discovered a crack in the gearbox – presumably a result of the accident.

And now he starts from the back at a track on which, as Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel put it, “it’s nearly impossible to overtake”.

The concern for Verstappen is not so much that the crash happened at all – as he said himself, it’s “very easily done” in Monaco – it’s more that he keeps doing it so often.

Monaco is the sixth race of the season and Verstappen has had a crash or other similar sort of incident at all of them. Sometimes more than one.

The team are not happy about it.

Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko told BBC Sport after qualifying that the Monaco crash was “unnecessary” and that Verstappen “is not patient enough”.

The Austrian will be having a word with his brilliant but flawed driver once the weekend is over, in an attempt to try to get to the bottom of why he is making so many mistakes – and more importantly, how to stop it happening.

Verstappen inspects his battered Red Bull after his accident in FP3

Making progress from the back in Monaco is not easy – but Fernando Alonso finished sixth here for Ferrari in 2010 in a very similar situation.

Red Bull’s bigger concern is making sure Ricciardo wins a race that is his to lose.

In 2016, he also took pole, and was waltzing away with the race only for the team to fail to get his tyres ready in time for a pit stop, handing victory to Lewis Hamilton, who starts third on Sunday behind Vettel.

Ricciardo was absolutely distraught after that, and was asked on Wednesday whether he felt Monaco owed him a win. “I mean, yes,” he said, “but I’ve got to go and earn it. It’s not going to happen without me putting the effort in.”

So far, he has done exactly that, fastest in every session and setting a brilliant pole position, more than 0.2 seconds clear of the field.

It surely can’t go wrong for him again, can it?

Could Porsche be coming to F1?

Porsche was last involved in F1 as a works team in 1962, and last supplied engines in 1991

On Friday, the rest day in Monaco, the team bosses had a meeting with F1 owner Liberty Media, on the latest stages of the plan to re-shape the sport from 2021.

This follows a meeting at the Bahrain Grand Prix when Liberty first laid out its plans in detail – for a cost cap, a restructured and more equitable revenue distribution and a change of the technical regulations to try to close up the grid.

Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff said that Liberty set out the results of their talks with the teams over the intervening period, outlined what he called the “common denominator”, and that the next stage was to “merge them into a proposal from Liberty to the teams” within the next two months.

The engine regulations are moving rather quicker than that. FIA president Jean Todt told the teams he was hoping to publish the definitive 2021 engine regulations by the end of June.

The manufacturers have now accepted the FIA’s desire to ditch the so-called MGU-H, the clever part of the hybrid system that recovers energy from the turbo and which is largely responsible for the revolutionary efficiency levels these F1 turbo hybrid engines achieve.

Wolff feels this sends a bad message on efficiency but accepts that from a spectacle point of view it might be necessary. Removing the MGU-H, and restrictions on fuel flow and capacity, will make the engines much louder – their relatively flat sound has been a complaint of many fans since they were introduced in 2014.

What’s most interesting, though, is why the FIA wants to remove the MGU-H. And that is because it is the wish of Porsche.

The German marque’s owner Volkswagen Group has flirted with F1 for some time now, and is expressing interest again. But it has said it would not come in if the MGU-H was still on the engines.

This is because the technology is complex, and Porsche fears the same problem as suffered by Honda when it returned to F1 in 2015 – a lack of competitiveness and years of development to catch up with manufacturers who have been perfecting the technology for a long time.

Sources say Porsche has a single-cylinder engine under development – the first stage of producing a new engine – but has yet to decide whether to enter F1 or how, as in with its own team or as an engine supplier. Even so, the FIA decided it wanted to accommodate Porsche in case it decided in favour.

Porsche is understood to be the only realistic potential new entrant. Insiders say Aston Martin will not come, despite expressing an interest in building an engine if the rules work for the company, and no independent engine manufacturer is said to be on the cards. Even the new rules would be too complex and expensive for them.

Ferrari controversy rumbles on

The Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen start second and fourth in Sunday’s race

Behind the scenes, the Monaco weekend has been dominated by controversy over the Ferrari car.

Rivals believe the Italian team have found a way around the restrictions on electrical energy with a battery system architecture that they believe to be illegal.

The FIA has been looking into the Ferrari battery since at least the Chinese Grand Prix back in April. The governing body found it has a different architecture to that on the other engines and felt there was a risk it could be used in an unscrupulous way.

Extensive investigations into a very complex issue have revealed no evidence of any wrongdoing but FIA officials have been working with Ferrari to make sure the car cannot be used in a way it should not be. That process is reaching its conclusion.

If any rivals remain unhappy once that point is reached, they will have to make an official protest.

How will new tyres affect the race?

Pirelli’s new ‘hyper-soft’ tyre is being used for the first time this weekend in Monaco and it has proved a popular choice with the drivers, who enjoy the extra grip it provides – the gain is in the region of close to a second a lap over the ultra-soft, the next softest tyre.

The race, though, is another matter. The hyper-soft degrades much faster than the other tyres – which means lap times drop off quite quickly.

This is why Mercedes tried to get through second qualifying on the ultra-soft in the hope of being able to start the race on it – as the rules dictate a driver must do with the tyre on which he set his fastest time in Q2.

Mercedes’ ploy did not work, which means all the drivers in the top 10 will start on the hyper-soft, while those behind will almost certainly choose something else.

How will that play out? Well, the leaders will have to make their tyres last as long as possible, as all will still be trying to make it through on a single stop, even if Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas believes that will be “difficult”.

There is also the question of whether they will still have the pace to create a gap to the runners behind on the harder tyres, into which they can drop after a pit stop.

Unless Ricciardo’s blistering qualifying pace translates into the race and he can pull a lead on the rest of the field, the result could be a train of cars, a cat-and-mouse game and a burst of activity when someone finally pulls the pit-stop trigger.

“Probably the one who is in the lead is going to manage the pace very carefully,” Wolff said, “and still run out of tyres after a few laps. There could be quite a tricky situation.”

Vettel said: “It’s still one of the most fascinating races because things can happen. It doesn’t mean they do happen, but they can.”



Pint-sized TMS: England v Pakistan – England rally to hold slender lead

Jos Buttler and Dom Bess share a century partnership as England build a lead of 56 over Pakistan in the first Test at Lord’s.