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A devastated Daniel Ricciardo has paid tribute to Mansour Ojjeh after the McLaren and motorsport icon died aged 68 on the weekend.

Ojjeh was McLaren’s major shareholder, having bought into the team in 1984 with former partner Ron Dennis, and helped establish it as one of the major forces in F1 during a near 40-year association.

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Ahead of last weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, McLaren announced Ojjeh died peacefully in Geneva, surrounded by his family. Team boss Zak Brown said the billionaire’s death “had devastated everyone” at the team.

“Mansour has been etched into the heart and soul of this team for nearly 40 years and was intrinsic to its success,” Brown said.

“He was a true racer in every sense. Ultra-competitive, determined, passionate and, above all, perhaps his defining characteristic: sporting.

“No matter the intensity of the battle, Mansour always put sport first.”

Ricciardo was gutted by Ojjeh’s passing, taking to Instagram to say how much he’ll miss him.

“We lost a great man over the weekend. Many of us knew Mansour and shared some great moments with him,” Ricciardo wrote. “Honestly can’t say enough good things. Gonna miss you mate.”

After the race in Baku, which saw Ricciardo finish ninth, the Aussie added: “I also just want to pay tribute to Mansour and send my condolences to (wife) Kathy and his entire family. He made a massive contribution to both McLaren and the entire sport, and he will be greatly missed.”

With Mansour on board McLaren won seven of its eight constructors’ world titles since 1984 and 10 of their 12 drivers’ crowns.

Lewis Hamilton, who won the first of his seven world titles at McLaren, said before the start of Sunday’s grand prix in Baku: “I carry a heavy heart into the race after the loss of a close friend, Mansour Ojjeh.

“He had the biggest heart and always carried the biggest smile. I am so grateful to have known such a man. This man loved unconditionally. Rest in peace brother, love you always.”

Ojjeh (L) was synonymous with McLaren. (Photo by MAURICIO LIMA / AFP)Source: AFP
Ricciardo paid tribute to a great McLaren man (far right).Source: Instagram

Qualifying blunder costs Ricciardo badly

A crash in qualifying saw Ricciardo start the Azerbaijan GP 13th on the grid but thanks to late fireworks that saw Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen crash out, he was able to climb up into the points. The West Australian was still well behind McLaren teammate Lando Norris though as the young Brit crossed the line in fifth.

“There were moments today in the race where I was thinking, ‘I hope it becomes a bit more exciting’ and suddenly it did,” Ricciardo said.

“We had some positive moments, but also a few difficult periods. I flat-spotted the hard (tyres) a bit, so that became tricky for the last few laps before the red flag, but not too bad beforehand.

“The last start, I felt like I got a good launch, and had a good run on the outside but there wasn’t really much room with a couple of cars on the inside. It just all bottlenecked into Turn Two and I felt a hit from behind. I couldn’t really do much, but we’ll keep working on our plan and keep moving forward.”

Ricciardo was realistic about his chances in the race after putting himself on the back foot with that crash in qualifying.

“It was Baku really, what can you say?” Ricciardo added. “It’s a weekend where you always have highs and lows and you know, Saturday (qualifying) was frustrating … you never feel good crashing the car, gives the mechanics extra work and I don’t like doing that because I’m a nice guy.

“I wasn’t mad because I was trying to find the limit so I’m glad that I explored but obviously this track bites.

“We’ll be able to explore a bit more in the triple header and a bit more open, bit more forgiving. We got double points, we survived a crazy race.”

Daniel Ricciardo couldn’t make many inroads at Baku (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images).Source: Getty Images

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One dead and two injured in incident at off-road race

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A man has died and two others have been injured after a group of spectators were hit by a vehicle at the Finke Desert Race near Alice Springs on Monday morning.

NT Police confirmed the death of a male spectator in his 60s, and serious injuries to a male spectator in his 50s.

The navigator of the vehicle, a woman in her 50s, sustained minor injuries in the crash.

The two-day Finke Desert Race is an off-road event for bikes, cars, buggies and quad bikes through the central Australian desert from Alice Springs to Aputula, held each year on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend.

“At 9:38am police received a report of a group of spectators being struck by a vehicle racing the Finke Desert Race track, 35km from the start/finish line,” a police spokesperson said.

Emergency services are at the scene of the crash at Finke Desert Race where one person has died with two were injured. Picture: SuppliedSource: Supplied

“A male spectator aged in his 50s was seriously injured as a result of the crash and medevaced to the Alice Springs Hospital, and the navigator of the vehicle, a woman aged in her 50s, received minor injuries.

“Another man in his 60s who was a spectator at the event and was struck by the vehicle has died at the scene.”

Police are calling for witnesses to the event as investigations continue.

The area has been cordoned off and competitors have been diverted from the area, which has been declared a crime scene.

An NT Health spokesperson said the two injured people were in a stable condition after sustaining non-life-threatening injuries.

Organisers said vehicles had been stopped on the course and would be recovered by crews.

The car section of the race and the presentation night have been cancelled, they said about 1pm on Monday.

“Motorsport Australia and Event Organisers have advised that as the NT Police are still carrying out investigations at the scene of today’s incident, the Clerk of the Course has declared the Car Section of the Finke Desert Race concluded,” they said in a Facebook post.

The race is a two-day off-road event for bikes, cars, buggies and quad bikes through the central Australian desert from Alice Springs to Aputula, held each year on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend. Picture: Finke Desert RaceSource: Supplied

“Arrangements will be made in conjunction with NT Police for vehicles stopped on the course at various locations on the Finke Track to be recovered by crews.

“Competitors and crews will be advised in due course.”

Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the cause of the incident and calling for any spectators who may have witnessed the incident, or have dash cam or video footage – to contact police immediately on 131 444.

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Romain Grosjean tries to put out car fire Detroit, Formula 1, news, video, Bahrain GP, crash

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Seven months ago, Romain Grosjean’s Formula One career ended in horrifying fashion as his Haas erupted a scorching inferno that shook the motorsports world.

The Frenchman was lucky to escape the 192km/h crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix with severe burns on his hands and a sprained ankle from yanking his foot from a trapped racing boot to escape the blaze.

The 35-year-old subsequently moved to IndyCar this season – only to see his Dale Coyne Racing vehicle catch fire in overnight in a Detroit race.

Far from running away, Grosjean stunningly reacted to the fire from his left-front brake by grabbing a trackside fire extinguisher and running back to deal with the flames himself.

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Grosjean tries to douse car fire himself | 01:20

Romain Grosjean opens up on ‘crazy’ impact of F1 explosion

Officials soon arrived to save his car, but were forced to hold Grosjean back – such was his desire to help.

Given his previous incident, Monday morning’s (AEST) stunning effort drew plenty of praise from the racing community.

But Grosjean played down the incident, posting a photo of himself wearing a Detroit Fire Department shirt on social media.

He also joked online: “I care about my racing cars.”

After retiring from the race, he told media at a press conference: “Eventually we had a brake fire, and I had to extinguish a fire, but we’re all good here.”

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Daniel Ricciardo set for McLaren boost in triple header, Lando Norris

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Three races in three weeks is a gruelling prospect for most F1 drivers, but Daniel Ricciardo believes the chaotic schedule is exactly what he needs to “fast track” his progress at McLaren.

Ricciardo’s transition from Renault to McLaren — his third team in four seasons — is proving to be tricky as he tries to come to terms with the car’s unique driving demands.

Difficult assignments at low-grip street circuits Monaco and Baku led to the widening of the gap between the Australian and his teammate Lando Norris, who has 40 more championship points after six races.

But the French, Styrian and Austrian Grands Prix — all at conventional, purpose-built circuits — will take place on consecutive weekends, allowing Ricciardo to log valuable track time in a condensed period.

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Perez claims wild GP victory! | 03:41

“(I’m) looking forward to a triple-header actually,” he said per the F1 website. “Getting into a rhythm, getting into three races in a row. Bit more conventional, bit more run-off room, won’t do us any harm.

“When you’re trying to learn any sport, the best way to learn is practice and doing it and that’s the unique thing with our sport, we can’t do it every day, we can’t just go out tomorrow and go and run a few laps, so I think having three consecutive weekends and putting in the practice consecutively will fast-track my progress.

“We’ve got the simulator and these things help but in the simulator, the walls don’t hurt. So it’s never quite the same.”

Ricciardo crashed during qualifying in Azerbaijan with the 13th-fastest time before he finished the race in ninth.

Asked if he could take comfort in the result, he said: “I can. Just getting the laps in and completing the race – that sounds so basic – but just to keep learning with the car.

“I think there’s moments in the race that took a bit more from it but I think that’s important and yes, a couple of points.”

The French Grand Prix is on June 20 before the Styrian GP on June 27th, and Austrian Grand Prix on July 4.

Verstappen crashes out from FIRST! | 00:48

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