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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 14 March 2015
32 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 14 MARCH 2015 SPORT As Daniel Ricciardo buckles in to redeem his previous disqualified podium finish in Melbourne, the rest of Australia is right behind him Thousands of Greek Australian rev-heads will be heading to Albert Park to see none other than fellow Aussie Daniel Ricciardo battle for the chequered flag. As the first race of the season, the Australian Grand Prix has always been looked upon as a litmus test. It will be the first time the car makers debut their new and improved cars, and it will be the first time the drivers show what they've got. Ricciardo, who is looking ever more comfortable in his role as one of Formula One's major talents, has said he is quietly confident about his prospect of making further inroads this Formula One season. The Australian proved a revelation last season, winning three races and finishing third in the championship in his first year with Red Bull. Buoyed by his success, the 25-year-old said he was feeling even better about his chances going into this season. "If you look back at last year, for sure we're in a better position," he said on Thursday. "I (don't) think the times we put down in testing ... have shown that yet, but obviously we're coming here this weekend with a lot more confidence and reliability." Last year's Australian Grand Prix was bittersweet for Ricciardo. He crossed the line second to get on the podium Page 28 AEK shows signs of past grandeur Page 29 Zaharakis returns for Bombers 9 771321 167062 Australia behind Ricciardo for the first time in his career, only to later be disqualified because of a fuel irregularity. Sebastian Vettel had won the previous four world championships with Red Bull but the team did not have high expectations at the start of 2014. "We've actually got a plan for Sunday whereas last year it was just 'OK, let's put the car on the track and hope to see the chequered flag'," Ricciardo said. "Within the team obviously there's a lot more that's progressed since then." Ricciardo's status in the team has also changed. Vettel has moved on to Ferrari and been replaced by Russian Daniil Kvyat, who is just 20, leaving the Australian as the senior driver. "With myself obviously I feel I've moved along a long way," Ricciardo added. "I'm a more evolved driver and have a bigger impact in the team, obviously spending the 12 months there that I have now. "It's all there on the table ready for us to use and pursue to put up another strong fight, so I'm looking forward to this season." However, Ricciardo stopped short of making any bold predictions about winning the championship, conceding that Mercedes still looks to have an edge over the other teams. "We'll see what happens on track but it does look like the Mercs have a bit of pace again this year," he said. "But for those last spots on the podium it looks pretty close between us, Ferrari and Williams and I'm sure there will be a few other players coming into the mix. "We'll see eve- ryone on track like for like this weekend and I think that is what is going to be exciting." Source: Reuters PHOTO: AP/ROB GRIFFITH. DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM ISSN 1321-1676 Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull car in testing. PHOTO: EPA/ALEJANDRO GARCIA. One more Super League weekend without fans Football league and other sports such as basketball not affected GEORGE GEORGAKOPOULOS The Super League will suffer another round of games without fans at the stands as Deputy Sports Minister Stavros Kontonis announced the extension of the fan ban for all teams in the top flight to this weekend, in the wake of the pitch invasion at the AEK vs Olympiakos Cup game a few hours earlier. "By decision of Deputy Minister for Culture, Education and Religions Stavros Kontonis and following the recommendations by Hellenic Police and DEAV [the commission against violence], the 28th round of games will take place behind closed doors," read the ministry's decision almost an hour and a half after the abandonment of the Cup game at the Olympic Stadium. This will be the second weekend in a row when games take place without fans, following a weekend of no action at all in the aftermath of the Panathinaikos vs Olympiakos derby riots and the clash between club officials at the Super League governing board. However, the measure has no effect for the Football League and other team sports, such as basketball and volleyball, where riots have repeatedly taken place, too. Violence hasn't stopped with the ban. Last week when there were no fans at the stands - one man was seriously injured and another less seriously in Thessaloniki at an incident when two Aris fans taunted four PAOK supporters outside a PAOK fan club, only to end up in hospital. 3,000 Panathinaikos fans gathered to watch their team’s match against PAOK from outside the empty stadium. PHOTO: AAP/ NEWZULU/MICHAEL DEBETS.
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