Real Madrid 'want to sign Lyon's 16-year-old wonderkid Rayan Cherki'

Real Madrid ‘want to sign Lyon’s 16-year-old Rayan Cherki this summer’ after the teenager dubbed ‘the next Karim Benzema’ admitted his dream is to play for the Bernabeu club

  • Cherki admitted in an interview last week his ambition is to play for Real Madrid
  • And, according to reports in Spain, his dream could come true quite soon
  • Real ‘want to sign 16-year-old Cherki this summer and loan him back to Lyon’
  • He has made 12 first-team appearances for Lyon and scored three goals so far 

Real Madrid ‘want to complete the signing of Lyon’s teenage striker Rayan Cherki this summer.’

The 16-year-old revealed his ultimate ambition is to play for Real in an interview last week and, according to reports in Spain, that dream could come true sooner than he expected.

Cherki, who is drawing comparisons with Karim Benzema after bursting onto the scene in Ligue 1 this season, has reportedly caught the eye of Real manager Zinedine Zidane.

Real Madrid ‘want to seal the signing of Lyon’s 16-year-old starlet Rayan Cherki this summer’  

The 16-year-old French forward has dazzled with his displays since bursting onto the scene

And Spanish newspaper El Confidencial claim the teenager wants the deal completed as quickly as possible when the next transfer window opens.

It is likely that Cherki would be loaned back to Lyon for next season after the deal is completed.

Cherki has made 12 first-team appearances for Lyon this season, scoring three times in the French Cup.

He was trusted by Lyon coach Rudi Garcia to start in their league fixture away at Paris Saint-Germain back in February and also made his Champions League debut against Zenit St Petersburg.

Zinedine Zidane is believed to be a big admirer of the 16-year-old, who has impressed for Lyon 

The youngster can play in an attacking midfield position, out wide, or even up front as a lone striker.

The 16-year-old revealed last week that the Bernabeu is his preferred destination.

‘My dream is to play for Real Madrid,’ he said in an interview with Lyon TV.

 


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Jones set to sign new England contract through to 2023 World Cup

Eddie Jones set to sign new England contract keeping him on through to the 2023 World Cup in France

  • Eddie Jones has been in charge of the England team since taking the job in 2015 
  • Jones recently took pay cut as part of RFU’s coronavirus cost-cutting measures 
  • The 60-year-old’s new contract will tie him to the job until the 2023 World Cup 
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

Eddie Jones is poised to stay in his role as England head coach through to the 2023 World Cup, after agreeing terms with the RFU to extend his contract.

The 60-year-old has been in charge of the national team since succeeding Stuart Lancaster at the end of 2015 and he guided his side to a place in the global final in Yokohama last November. 

In the aftermath of that showpiece event – which England lost 32-12 against South Africa – RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney indicated that he wanted to retain the Australian’s services for the next four-year cycle, and that plan appears to have been enacted.

England head coach Eddie Jones is set to stay in his role through to the 2023 World Cup 

There were indications on Wednesday night that the deal to extend Jones’s contract beyond its existing expiry date in August, 2021 has been finalised and that there may be an announcement as early as today to confirm this. However, it is understood that there was unease in some quarters at the union about the timing of an announcement, given the suspension of the rugby season, pay cuts and financial fears linked to the coronavirus pandemic.

When he took over from Lancaster, Jones insisted that he would stay in his post until 2019 and then either move on or retire. 

However, last May Sportsmail exclusively revealed that he had had a change of heart and was prepared to commit to overseeing the English challenge at the 2023 World Cup, which will be held in France.

Jones has taken a 25 per cent pay cut as part of the RFU’s coronavirus cost-cutting measures

Jones’s tenure has yielded some spectacular success, with a Grand Slam, another Six Nations title, a joint world-record run of 17 consecutive Test victories and a series whitewash of Australia on tour in 2016. 

The appearance in last year’s World Cup Final came in after a 19-7 victory over the mighty All Blacks which was widely acclaimed as England’s greatest Test performance and result.

Jones is thought to be the highest-paid coach in the world, with a salary of £750,000, although he recently agreed to take a pay cut of more than 25 per cent, amid RFU cost-cutting linked to the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent rugby shut-down.





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10 things we want to happen when football finally returns

Liverpool win the title they deserve, ludicrous Qatar World Cup is cancelled and Andrea Agnelli’s awful Champions League plan is scrapped… 10 things we want to see happen when football FINALLY returns

  • Football is on hold while the planet battles coronavirus – with no return date set
  • Fixture congestion and tournament expansions were already an issue
  • Liverpool are waiting to lift the Premier League title as they sit 25 points clear
  • Sportsmail picks out 10 things we want to happen when football returns 
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

Football, as with all social life, is on hold indefinitely while the world tries to loosen itself from the horrifying grip of coronavirus.

Contemplating when the game we love will return is a pointless exercise with so much uncertainty around and, frankly, with more important things to worry about.

But, as we might dream of a better society when we are able to interact with each other once again, we can ponder what we would like to improve in the way football is played and organised.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has expanded both the World Cup and Club World Cup

With Champions League finals and European Championships’ pushed into insignifance by Covid-19, friendlies and minor cup competitions become totally irrelevant, and a spotlight is shone on football’s money-grabbing powerbrokers as we ponder a purer, streamlined game in the future.

Sportsmail has picked out 10 things we would like see happen when football eventually returns – whenever that is. 

Juventus owner Andrea Agnelli, president of the European Clubs’ Association, is putting his weight behind a Champions League revamp which would see places awarded using coefficients that put far more emphasis on what a club has done in its entire history, rather than in the last season. 

In short, he wants to protect European giants from losses of form and ensure that no ambitious smaller clubs can even dream of replacing them at the top table.

The plan flies in the face of the principle of sporting competition and of the very essence of the Champions League, which was set up as the European Cup to pit the best performers in the previous season’s domestic leagues against each other. That’s all it should be, nothing more, nothing less. 

As Sportsmail‘s Chief Sports Writer Martin Samuel wrote earlier this month: ‘(Agnelli is a) creeping, crawling, self-serving, protectionist snake… He is a man without a single cell of feeling for sport or sporting integrity.’

Juventus owner Andrea Agnelli want to protect the status of Europe’s giant clubs

CAP TICKET PRICES

Before all football was postponed across Europe, we had a couple of weeks of matches being played behind closed doors – and it was horrible.

To watch PSG beat Dortmund in the Champions League with no fans present was a bizarre experience. Here you had two of the best teams on the continent slugging it out in a high-stakes knockout match in the biggest club competition in the world, yet it felt like a training match. Why? There was no atmosphere.

The matchday fan makes football what it is and without them the TV audience would slowly start turning off – yet they are being priced out of it by greedy club owners.

Most clubs have signed up to the ‘Twenty’s Plenty’ scheme for away Premier League tickets, but that should be enforced across all competitions, with home tickets capped at £40.

Crystal Palace fans watch a Premier League match against Wolves in September 2019

SCRAP THE CARABAO CUP 

Before coronavirus obliterated football, one of the biggest talking points of the season was the packed fixture schedule, which came to a head in December when Liverpool sent out a youth team to play in the Carabao Cup. 

When it eventually returns, fixture congestion will be even more pertinent with so many games to fit in.

One easy solution would be to scrap the Carabao Cup. France is the only other major European nation with two domestic cup competitions and they are scrapping their second one after this season. 

Before the expansion of European competitions the League Cup served a purpose, now there is barely a logical argument for keeping it, with even Football League clubs sending out reserve teams and fans staying away. 

Manchester City celebrate winning the Carabao Cup after beating Aston Villa at Wembley

END FA CUP REPLAYS AFTER THE THIRD ROUND

While it’s hard to sympathise with League Cup loyalists, no football fan can deny the FA Cup its place on its pedestal given its status as the world’s oldest competition. And with the Carabao Cup scrapped, it would enjoy a renaissance too.

The replay is ingrained into the FA Cup’s fabric, with clubs splitting the gate receipts to potentially give non-league clubs and small Football League clubs a massive pay-day and a day out to remember. 

But do we need them after the third round, when it is largely big clubs playing one another and any small club remaining has already earned a decent wedge? No.

Liverpoool sent out a youth team in their FA Cup fourth round replay win over Shrewsbury

CANCEL QATAR WORLD CUP AND MOVE TO 2023

Now we move from the possible into the almost impossible. But the point of this is ‘what we’d like to see’, so let’s dream for a moment… 

The ridiculous reality of the Qatar World Cup is creeping into view – a tournament played in the desert in winter with hardly any fans. Just imagine, for a moment, that FIFA president Gianni Infantino turns round and says, ‘you know what guys, this was a terrible idea from the start, let’s just ditch it now. Qatar, you can still have the Confederations Cup’. 

With the Euros pushed back a year, football’s calendar desperately needs some breathing space and a World Cup 18 months later is certainly not what it needs, even forgetting for a moment that it’s in Qatar and how the bid was won. There are plenty of countries in Europe and the Americas who could stage a World Cup at short notice in summer 2023. And there might even be some fans at the matches.

Disgraced former FIFA president Sepp Blatter hands the World Cup to Qatar in 2010

DITCH 48-TEAM WORLD CUP

Continuing the theme of ridiculous World Cups, Infantino has decided to try to outdo his corrupt, disgraced predecessor Sepp Blatter by turning the World Cup into a 48-team event in 2026. The lunacy is dumbfounding. 

The only logical reason Infantino has done this is surely to secure favour across the world when it comes to voting him in again. 32 teams works absolutely fine thank you, Mr President.

BIN EXPANDED CLUB WORLD CUP

That man Infantino again. The FIFA president’s other grand plan has been to expand the Club World Cup – you know, that tournament nobody cares about but the winners – to 24 teams and host it in China next summer. 

With the Euros being moved, it’ll surely have to be rearranged. Better than that, just keep it to a small knockout tournament in December.

Infantino smiles before presenting the Club World Cup trophy to Liverpool in December

CUT BACK SUMMER TOURS

In a world where we must all think about cutting back on unnecessary travel, elite clubs must consider addressing their pre-season globetrotting. Even before coronavirus struck, managers were sick of having to drag their teams from continent to continent to please sponsors and accountants when players should really be resting. While we all miss it now, you can have too much football.

LIVERPOOL WIN THE TITLE

As mentioned above, it is pointless right now attempting to predict if or when the season might resume. What is not up for debate though, is that Liverpool are worthy Premier League champions for the 2019-20 season. Issues of relegation, promotion and European qualification are far murkier, but whatever happens, an agreement should be reached to hand Liverpool their first title for 30 years.

That is not because it is Liverpool, who this writer has no affiliation for, it is because there is a team that is 25 points clear with just nine games left of a 38-match season. They are the champions. 

Liverpool face an anxious wait to land their first title for 30 years amid the coronavirus crisis

ENGLAND WIN THE EUROS

Since we’re in the realm of dreaming, let’s imagine a world where, in 16 months’ time, with coronavirus having been successfully booted into touch, Gareth Southgate delivers England’s first major trophy for 55 years with a young team playing vibrant, attacking football to unite a nation in the wake of a major crisis. 

It is not impossible to imagine, and a little less fanciful than some of the ideas above. 

England manager Gareth Southgate hugs star forward Raheem Sterling





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‘The world is going to need football’: Lincoln Riley keeps an open mind about 2020 season

Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley’s typical days consist of virtual staff meetings, players meetings, recruiting and film study.  

That is not so much different than most social-distancing Americans during the continued spread of COVID-19 across the United States. 

“Every waking hour is in front of a screen,” Riley said on a teleconference Tuesday. “It’s the new normal. … A lot of times you take a step back and wonder if it’s real. In a lot of ways, it feels like we’re living in a movie.” 

Despite that, Riley is maintaining a forward-thinking and open-minded approach about when and how the 2020 college football season will be played. On March 31, six months before the first week of the season, that is the best script for now. 

“I feel like by September the world is going to need football,” Riley said. “A lot of that will be determined by our country’s response to this.” 

There are more than 180,000 reported cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of Tuesday afternoon, and that has led to speculation about whether college football will be played in 2020. That scenario gained traction after ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit’s comments that he would be “shocked” if college football is played this year. Riley, who is 36-6 and has led the Sooners to three straight College Football Playoff appearances, is not thinking in those terms.  

“I haven’t considered it just because that’s so far out in front that I don’t know that it will do me or us any good,” Riley said. “There are still so many unknowns, but we do have a plan if it does happen.” 

Riley knows the coaching staff should have 20 hours a week with his players and the limitations to the virtual football world. He still is looking at ahead — and June 1 is a target date that could be telling.

Riley said there are a few players still in Norman, Okla., but the first step is getting players back on campus safely.  

“The next realistic time most people are going to be looking at are the summer period and whether or not you have camps,” Riley said. “Whether or not you are able to have prospects on campus. That’s going to be the next realistic possibility. What we do the rest of the summer will probably hinge on how that plays out.”  

Riley is flexible on a possible start date for the season and whether fans will be allowed to be in attendance. He was asked what it would be like to play Texas in the Cotton Bowl without fans.  

“It would be very, very unique,” Riley said. “If that what it comes to do for games to still be able to be played and guys to still be able to play and then for our fans to connect and be a part of it virtually, that may be where we could end it.”  

Riley also was open to a later start date, which would be easier than logistically than a summer season. How much preparation would a team need in order to be ready to play a regular-season game?  

“We could have 15 to 20 practices and be ready to go play, without a doubt,” Riley said.   

Would that football be good enough? Riley said it would resemble spring football or early fall camp to the coaches, but most fans would still enjoy the experience.  

In that regard, Riley is right. The return of football would mean the threat of COVID-19 has been mitigated on some level. In that respect, Riley is willing to take all the necessary precautions and adjust the time frame as needed.  

By September, that might be what every needs. Riley is willing to wait longer, too.  

“I don’t know that we can put on a limit,” Riley said. “Football, just purely the game, can be played anytime, anywhere. I think we all have to be open-minded about it.”  

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$124 million lifeline given to English cricket

London: The England and Wales Cricket Board has announced a £61 million ($124 million) aid package to help the English game withstand the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The start of the English cricket season has been delayed until at least May 28 due to the outbreak, and the ECB is also drawing up contingency plans in case the season is pushed back further.

The England and Wales Cricket Board has announced a financial aid package for counties.Credit:PA

About £20 million will be made available for recreational clubs via a cricket club support loan scheme, grants through the "return to cricket" scheme and a 12-month holiday on loan repayments.

"We would like to thank everyone within the cricket network who is working tirelessly to protect the game during this period of uncertainty," Harrison added.

"We are fully aware that the situation with COVID-19 will continue to develop, and it will be months before the full financial fallout is made clear."

England test captain Joe Root said earlier that he expects talks with the ECB over possible pay cuts for international players to help safeguard the game during the outbreak.

Meanwhile, player salaries for the South African 2020-21 cricket season are safe, but the long-term effects of the coronavirus pandemic could mean the country's cricketers earn less in the future, Cricket South Africa Acting CEO Jacques Faul has said.

Faul said CSA, who contract players on a yearly basis, will not follow suit in cutting player pay, but believed the longer-term prospects for player income is of great concern.

"We have budgeted for the amount. It is a centralised system and both the national team and franchise players are budgeted for," Faul told local media on Tuesday.

"At this stage we will have enough capacity to see us through the season. But in the long term, even if we cover this season, we will have to look at what the situation is going to be after that and the financial impact it has.

"In our situation, I cannot see any player getting less money this season, but going forward I can see a situation where players might have to receive less."

Faul added they are currently undertaking scenario planning based on the impact of no cricket for the next three, six or nine months.

He conceded that in a worst-case scenario, where international cricket cannot be played for two or three seasons, the game could become a recreational sport in South Africa.

Reuters

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Everton stars using Zoom to help them keep track of players' injuries

Everton stars ‘using video conference tool Zoom to allow players to receive updates and advice on injuries’ as Premier League clubs adapt during coronavirus crisis

  • Everton are using Zoom and Skype to assess the condition of injured players 
  • Morgan Schneiderlin will see his knee surgeon over Zoom on Monday next week 
  • Technology is also helping to keep their players competitive despite no football
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

Everton are using Zoom to help assess players with Morgan Schneiderlin scheduled to see his knee surgeon on the video conferencing application next week

It is part of Everton’s plan to help every injured player on their road to recovery while also adhering to the government’s social distancing guidelines.

Everton are currently without Schneiderlin, Jean-Philippe Gbamin and Cenk Tosun.

Everton are using the video conference calling service Zoom to assess their injured players

Speaking to the Guardian, Everton’s director of medical services, Danny Donachie, said: ‘The two most challenging situations are with Morgan and Cenk. 

‘They are not able to do any weight-bearing exercise. Most of what we’d have done with them would be hands-on, and that’s not possible. 

‘We are doing regular Skype sessions with them but what we can do practically is very limited. Morgan is due to see the surgeon on Monday next week and we will do that via Zoom. 

The club are able to assess their players without seeing them in person at the training ground

‘From then he can probably do more exercise, so I will be doing one-to-one videos with him every day.’ 

Donachie also revealed that using Zoom and Skype is helping Everton to keep their players competitive – by mainly using stationary bikes – despite the lack of football.

He added: ‘It isn’t always possible because of logistics. I have a group of four, for example, and two of them don’t have bike, so we can’t do the bike session together. 

‘But we have a weekly log of their sessions and that has introduced an element of competition because some of them want to do more sessions than anyone else – and see that recorded.’





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Joe Buck wants you to stop sending sex tapes for him to narrate

Joe Buck’s social media experiment, in which he does play-by-play for videos that followers send in of their daily lives, has been a huge success so far for the broadcaster during this coronavirus quarantine.

So far the videos have ranged from golf trick shots, to marble racing, to a balding hairline, and many of them are infinitely entertaining with Buck’s particular brand of commentary.

But now Buck has a request: Stop sending him sex tapes.

In an interview with KMOX in St. Louis, Buck revealed that he has received several videos on the more amorous side, and that he will not be posting or calling play-by-play for these.

“Yeah, I’ve received quite a few,” Buck said. “And you have to be careful. You have to go through these videos like the Zapruder film because you’re worried that there’s going to be something in the background, there’s going to be something hidden like a Highlights Magazine that we should not focus on, but it’s still there and it becomes some internet thing where I put my voice to something that I shouldn’t have. 

“Yeah, I’ve had a couple of submissions from let’s say, a man and a woman, that just didn’t seem appropriate to put my voice to in this stage of my life. Maybe later in life, but not now. I look at these videos very carefully and pick the ones that seem the most wholesome to put my voice to.”

Who knows, if this quarantine goes on much longer and he runs out of videos, we may soon see a very different side of Joe Buck’s play-by-play.

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Bookies set to announce plan to bet on 'Virtual Grand National'

Bookies set to announce plans to bet on televised ‘Virtual Grand National’ with profits going to NHS charities battling coronavirus

  • Virtual Grand National will be shown on ITV1 at 5:15pm on Saturday afternoon
  • In world devoid of live sport, interest and viewing figures could match real thing  
  • Bookmakers do not want to be seen to profit at such a testing time globally  
  • So handing profits to NHS while it fights against COVID-19 is ideal scenario  
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

The bookmaking industry are close to announcing a plan to bet on Saturday’s Virtual Reality Grand National with any profits made going to the NHS Charities Group.

The Virtual Grand National will be shown on ITV1 at 5.15pm on Saturday with the possibility that, in a world devoid of live sport, interest and viewing figures could at least match the real thing.

Sportsmail understands that discussions have taken place between major bookmakers via the Betting & Gaming Council.

Punters could have the chance to bet on the Virtual Grand National with the real one off 

Anyone placing winning bets will be paid but bookmakers do not want to be seen to profit at such a sensitive time. 

Handing profits to such a worthy charity as the NHS while it leads the fight against COVID-19 is the ideal scenario.

It is understood agreement has been sought so that all bookmakers offer the same prices and terms. There is also likely to be a maximum bet of £10.

The NHS could be given profits made by bookmakers to help the fight against coronavirus

The 40 runners and riders for the Virtual Grand National should be published in the next 24 hours.

They will be headed by Tiger Roll who would have been attempting to become the first horse to win the race for three consecutive years if the race had been run at Aintree.

The virtual race will use the latest CGI technology and algorithms to produce a result based on data including the runners’ form and going preferences.





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Formula One teams unite to fight ventilator shortage

What might be perceived as a lost season for Formula One could yet emerge as one of the sport's finest hours. Such is the warp speed of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic that world champions Mercedes, one of seven teams working to redress England's ventilator shortages, have already unveiled a breathing aid to keep coronavirus patients out of intensive care. This type of feat – involving prototyping, regulatory approval and mass production – would usually take years. But, in extraordinary circumstances, it has been accomplished in just seven days.

For Mark Gillan, the coordinator of "Project Pitlane" – as F1's reaction to the emergency is known – it is an unprecedented display of solidarity. For 14 years, Gillan worked as a senior engineer at McLaren, Red Bull and Williams as the teams contrived devilish ways to outdo one another. But today, as chief technology officer for Innovate UK, he chairs twice-daily video conferences from his offices on London's Victoria Embankment and sees only a united front to face the challenges of the moment.

A volunteer demonstrates the use of a CPAP device at University College London Hospital.Credit:AP

"There is nobody better at reverse-engineering or at the rapid designing, developing and testing of complex systems as F1 teams," Gillan says.

"When you bring this expertise together, it becomes a very significant resource. The work that Mercedes have done is testament to that. They passed regulations with their device very, very quickly. It has been a hugely positive step."

A closer view of the breathing aid, which Mercedes and other Formula One teams helped adapt and improve. Credit:AP

Mercedes, working closely with clinicians at University College London Hospital, have fashioned a solution faster than anyone imagined possible. In just a week, they have built dozens of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure devices, which deliver oxygen to the lungs without requiring a ventilator.

Such equipment has successfully treated COVID-19 patients in China and Italy, but is in short supply in the UK. Forty devices have been delivered to UCLH and three other London hospitals. If trials prove successful, Mercedes estimate they can soon start producing 1000 per day.

Andy Cowell, the managing director of Mercedes High Performance, says: "We have been proud to put our resources at the service of UCL, delivering this CPAP project to the highest standards and in the fastest possible time frame."

Project Pitlane is divided into three strands specific to the talents of the F1 industry: design, prototype manufacture and skilled assembly. Work across all three will accelerate over the next fortnight, as F1 strives to ensure that the National Health Service has the technology it needs to deal with the peak of the coronavirus outbreak, expected in two to three weeks.

"F1 loves to work with defined metrics, and we have a very clear plan for what needs to be achieved," Gillan says. "We have update meetings with them throughout the day, and then a review session in the evening with the government, who go through everything that has been learnt.

"It's a testament to teams' attitude that in a period when their factories have shut down, they have all bound together."



Although teams are in the middle of a mandatory 21-day shutdown, an order normally enforced only during the August break, sections of their factories have been turned over exclusively to efforts to combat COVID-19. Nowhere is the strangeness of the times more evident than at McLaren, who have relaxed their usual operating-theatre protocols in technical areas to allow staff to eat lunch at their stations.

Gillan, formerly chief race engineer with Williams, first approached teams to help the national effort on March 15, within 48 hours of the Australian Grand Prix being cancelled. "There was an immediate positive reaction," he says. "They were already thinking about what they could do."

Engineers who would once have devoted all their energies to tweaking Lewis Hamilton's steering wheel found themselves reassigned, almost overnight, to making a crucial contribution to the national effort.

"With clinical advisers embedded in the process, it helps to focus the mind," Gillan says. "The transition by all the teams has been smooth. But that's what I expect, because they are world leaders in taking designs, improving them, and moving at pace."

Reverse-engineering is the area of expertise most specifically tailored to F1. In recent days, Mercedes' finest minds have worked on dismantling an existing off-patent CPAP device, copying and improving the design, then adapting it for mass production. The effect of their intervention could be profound, with reports from Lombardy, the region of Italy most ravaged by COVID-19, indicating that half the patients given CPAP have avoided any need for invasive mechanical ventilation.

So acute are the time pressures that there are still vast challenges for F1 to overcome, not least in sourcing materials. But with Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren, Renault, Racing Point, Haas and Williams all committing to the project, Gillan argues that the sport is equal to the challenge. "These teams, while they are extremely competitive, all know each other. There is a lot of flux of people between them, with many people moving teams. While some of the systems will be different, they have the same way of working. As a result, you can integrate them extremely quickly."

Gillan, conscious of how high the stakes are, is wary of being too lavish in his acclaim just yet. "The next two or three weeks will be critical," he says. "Only then can we give ourselves any pats on the back."

For now, suffice to say that it is perhaps the most memorable example of shared endeavour that he, or the sport he long served, has ever known.

The Telegraph, London

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