McLaren team offers F1 simulator role for winner of virtual race

The duties are often handed to the official reserves.McLaren Technology Group Executive Director Zak Brown said in a statement that it was the right time to connect the worlds of racing and gaming in a new way.“The winner will genuinely be a key part of our team at McLaren,” he added. The McLaren Formula One team launched a virtual racing competition on Thursday with a real job as a simulator driver as the prize.The former world champions, who are struggling with Honda engine reliability and performance issues this season, said the winner would be offered a one-year contract to help them improve the car. “This is for real: we absolutely require additional support across our two simulator platforms.”The World’s Fastest Gamer competition will be a collaboration between McLaren, team sponsor Logitech G and Darren Cox, the founder of virtual motorsport’s GT Academy.McLaren said the initiative would make them the first Formula One team to enter the E-sports arena.Six international finalists will be selected by experts in gaming and Formula One with a further four finalists chosen from qualifying events online.McLaren said contestants would race across a variety of different gaming titles and platforms and would also need to demonstrate engineering know-how, teamwork and the necessary mental and physical strengths.The world of E-sports is enjoying huge growth with traditional media companies and big videogame publishers clamoring to get involved.Formula One’s owners Liberty Media, who took control of the sport in January, have highlighted gaming as a growth area as they seek new audiences and increased revenues from North America.“Less than one per cent of revenues are from digital,” Liberty Media chief executive Greg Maffei said last year. “I think there’s a lot of things that can be done around gaming, VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality).”The global E-sports audience is expected to reach 385 million this year with the market generating $696-million, according to research firm Newzoo.North America is the largest market, with predicted revenues of $257-million in 2017 and $607-million by 2020.The all-electric Formula E series staged a virtual race between all of its drivers and gamers in Las Vegas last January. With real track testing heavily restricted under the regulations, Formula One teams use simulators to acquire data and develop their cars. The winner, Dutch virtual racer Bono Huis, collected a $200,000 jackpot.

Kyle Lowry misses Raptors practice, questionable for Game 3

“I just think we have that mentality of next man up, just playing hard, as we do when he’s there and we were able to win games. The team fared surprisingly well, going 14-7 in his absence.“It’s unfortunate, obviously, when anyone goes out, especially one of our stars,” said Cory Joseph, who started in Lowry’s absence. Probably just started his treatment early to start getting ready for Game 3.” The Raptors may have to face Cleveland on Friday without Kyle Lowry.Toronto’s dogged point guard is questionable after spraining his left ankle in Wednesday’s 125-103 loss to the Cavaliers, and backcourt partner DeMar DeRozan said his absence would be “a big problem,” for a Toronto team that’s two losses away from elimination. Throughout playoffs or period,” James said. So I knew it was bad when I first saw it. I was surprised when he came back out, but they were telling me the best thing for him to do was to continue to play, because if it cooled off it would really be bad.”Lowry was arguably Toronto’s best player in the two losses to Cleveland, scoring 20 points in both games.The three-time all-star missed 21 games late in the regular season after undergoing wrist surgery. “I know he wasn’t able to finish the game. “I don’t think Tristan did it maliciously, but he threw him down, threw Norm down into his ankle, and all of his weight went onto his ankle. So for us not to have him anything close to 100 per cent, it would be difficult on us,” DeRozan said. He’s a good friend of mine, a well-respected guy in our league and we never, no matter throughout competition you don’t want anybody to get hurt. Next man mentality and we’re all playing good together.”Joseph had 22 points on Wednesday, but much of it was in the fourth quarter after both coaches had emptied their benches.He averaged 4.7 points per game in 16.1 minutes a night in the regular season.Lowry averaged 15.1 points in 38.7 minutes per game.Cavs superstar LeBron James saw Lowry go down, saying the injury “didn’t look that great.”“I just wanted him to get up. “Kyle is our driving force, our point guard, our leader. “But next guy, everybody else gotta do something a little bit more to fill whatever void it is he can’t fully do out there on the court.”Lowry missed Thursday’s practice at Biosteel Centre and was scheduled for an MRI later in the day, according to coach Dwane Casey.The injury occurred early in the third quarter when Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson shoved Norman Powell, who hit Lowry from the side while falling.“I don’t think the officials saw that part of it,” Casey said of Thompson’s shove.

Kelly: The Toronto Raptors are losing and we’re all sad

The way the Raptors talked about Lowry’s condition – grim, verging on eulogistic – left little doubt about the likely answer to that question.So while the funeral notice for the season has not yet been printed, it’s probably a good idea to start digging the grave.The optimists in the crowd – presumably the sort of people who say to themselves, “I have a good feeling about this one,” every time they play the lottery – will point out that the Raptors were blown out in the first two games against Cleveland a year ago and then briefly regained their balance at home. Uh, no? He’s openly mocked them. Whereas Casey used a delightful Caseyism to deny he’s absorbing the negatives – “I don’t see the noise” – DeRozan admitted it’s getting to him.“You can’t turn on the TV or look at anything socially without seeing all the criticism, questioning this or whatever somebody may think,” DeRozan said. They are not being dismantled so effectively in consecutive outings that the other team feels free to Harlem Globetrotters its way through long stretches of play. Those are big things.DeRozan was the only one who would give the king his tribute while contrasting what James has looked like from last year to this one.“He’s a lot more aggressive. Joseph did earn a ring with the San Antonio Spurs, but whatever he knows about the difficulty of winning titles was largely gleaned from his perspective as a spectator. You just see a different fire, hunger in him, this time around.”It sounded a lot like a surrender with terms – just give us one or two.Another word that got tossed around on Thursday was “redemption.” Not in the sense of coming back to win the series – that ship has sailed so far it’s already docked on the other side of the metaphoric ocean. After much searching, he settled on an unlikely source.“I have all the trust and confidence in the world in Cory [Joseph]. I don’t really know how to answer that one. Joseph averaged five minutes and three points a game in that 2013-14 postseason. By the looks of him, DeRozan is being trash-compacted by it. Joseph unleashed all the clichés of the athlete in freefall – “come out with a lot more energy,” “I’m always confident.” God help him, he actually said the words “110 per cent.”DeRozan didn’t try any of that. With all due respect, he’s not saviour material.The impetus for Casey’s outburst of irrational Cory Joseph-based exuberance was the likelihood that Kyle Lowry will not play in Friday’s Game 3.Lowry was injured in the most Raptors way possible on Wednesday night, crushed under the body of a teammate who’d been thrown on top of him. Nothing about what we’ve seen yet suggests the slightest chance of reversing those complementary trends.But redemption in the sense of managing to escape this encounter with some dignity intact.Rather than a win, self-respect would be a more plausible goal at the outset on Friday – one good quarter when it actually means something, a few defensive stops strung together, finding one shooter who doesn’t look like he’s trying to throw an anvil into a Dixie cup.It isn’t likely to lead anywhere truly meaningful, but at this point the Raptors are beyond that sort of aspiration. Thus far, both encounters have functionally ended after 36 minutes.Some players feel the weight of history. But this one feels different.Asked if it felt that way to him, Joseph stuttered, “Uh. He knows how hard it is,” Casey said. After two vicious beatings in Cleveland, Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey was left pawing around on the ground Thursday for some sign of hope. Yes?”There’s the confidence the Raptors are looking for in their fill-in court general.The difference is mainly down to LeBron James, who appears to have decided he really cares about tying this one off quickly, as opposed to his usual, early-postseason kind-of, sort-of caring.James hasn’t just beaten the Raptors to this point. They’re now in the most dispiriting sort of fight – trying to win a battle, while knowing you’ve lost the war. Everybody sees things or may get text messages … ”Text messages? He came out forlorn, speaking in a whisper. By Sunday, he will be six inches tall and ready for curbside pickup.To his credit, DeRozan made very little effort to seem upbeat. “At the end of the day, we’re all human. Nursing a twisted ankle, Lowry left the court in pain, returned briefly to the game, and then left again.He was taken for an MRI on Thursday in Toronto. In Game 2, he stood lackadaisically at the three-point line with a man in his face, spun the ball in his hands like a kid taking free throws in his driveway and then planted a jumper over the outstretched arm of Serge Ibaka.“Twice,” Casey said when asked about it. Meaning how many times James had swirled the ball before deciding to shoot. Working on the assumption that the only people who have your phone number are your friends, DeRozan may be in need of a more robust support system.Others tried to elide the real problem – James – and focus instead on doing the “little things.”The little things are missing your spots a few times, or forgetting to make the extra pass that finds an open shooter. He’s being called “questionable” for Friday. He didn’t say it amusedly.If Lowry is out, the entire burden falls onto DeMar DeRozan, who scored only one point in the first three quarters on Wednesday. In Game 1, he paused mid-game to take an imaginary refresher from a courtside patron’s beer. No James-led team has ever lost a series after going up 2-0; no Raptor squad has ever won one after losing the first two games. Of all the people on the team, he’s won a championship.

Raptors need DeRozan to solve Cavs’ smothering defence

But we’ve got to set better screens and he’s got to vault up and shoot the ball with conviction. In last year’s series between them, the Cavaliers thrashed the Raptors by a combined 50 points in the first two games in Cleveland, but then the Raps answered by winning two in Toronto. He was so frustrated by the Cavaliers in Game 2 that he didn’t even score a field goal until the fourth quarter.The all-star guard went 2-for-11 from the field Wednesday for five points. But he has another level he can get to.”DeRozan averaged 27 points in the regular season and 23 points in eight games in this season’s playoffs. DeRozan, usually very proficient at getting to the line, shot just three free throws that night, and missed two of them.With Smith and Shumpert smothering DeRozan defensively, his numbers are limited, and it also frees up James to conserve some of his energy on defence so he can produce more offensively. The Cleveland megastar can then roam, which creates opportunities for him to jump on steals.“[James] doesn’t have to use as much energy to play defence,” Smith said. The team needs to put shooters in better spots to executive three-pointers and then just shoot, rather than trying to do too much with the ball first.After watching the film on Thursday, DeRozan was antsy to implement modifications and try to flip the script.“The thing that sucks the most is the idle time of waiting to see what you think you saw will work,” DeRozan said. I’m just going to go out there and try to make the right passes out of the double, trust my teammates. They’re not doing anything we haven’t seen – blitzing on and off. Even a single Toronto victory will be impossible unless DeRozan can battle through Cleveland’s double teams and provide more points.The Cavs have enlisted J.R. Nothing is going right for the Toronto Raptors, and if they have any prayer of changing that, they need more points from DeMar DeRozan, stat.The Raptors are down 0-2 in their Eastern Conference semi-final series with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and now star point guard Kyle Lowry is questionable for Friday’s Game 3 with a sprained ankle. So it helps our team.”After Thursday’s practice, DeRozan described the feeling of being the focal point of the Cavs’ constant defensive pressure.“[James] can play kind of like a free safety,” DeRozan said. I couldn’t find a rhythm with all the doubling.”DeRozan said that, strategically, there are things Toronto can do to overcome that defensive heat, but it will only work if the Raps shoot better. “It’s not like he’s not working to do it. They blitz DeRozan with double teams that come from different directions.“They’re into him, they’re bodying him and he’s got to vault up and make his shots and I’ve got to do a better job of getting him open looks,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. But he shot 9-of-27 (33 per cent), averaging 13.5 points in the two games against Cleveland. “You know you have to make the right pass, get it out of there.“They do a great job of protecting the paint and also getting out to our shooters at the same time. Smith and Iman Shumpert to take turns guarding DeRozan, just as they did last round against the Indiana Pacers’ best scorer, Paul George. “That’s the most frustrating part – just trying to keep the patience until we can play and just get this feeling off us.” “That helps us because on the weak side, he can get those long rebounds, and get out and run and play the passing lanes. We missed a lot of shots. Cavs superstar LeBron James has throttled them – exploding for 74 points over two games – while his team has smothered DeRozan defensively, stifling Toronto’s biggest-scoring weapon.

Senators drop another to Rangers as series heads back to Ottawa tied

He stopped Derek Stepan and Mika Zibanejad on clear chances.But he could hardly hold the net forever.As the middle period began to wind down, Tanner Glass, the Rangers’ key agitator, muscled the puck free behind the Ottawa net, J.T. Ottawa forward Mark Stone, struggling terribly this round, could not hold a puck near the Ottawa blueline, allowing Hayes to fly through the neutral zone and slip a nice pass to a breaking Nick Holden.Holden came in hard on Anderson, dropping the puck back to his forehand and flipping the puck into the net past Anderson’s blocker for a 1-0 New York lead.Ottawa’s best chance to tie matters came late in the opening period when captain Erik Karlsson found himself with the puck, with space, with time, right in the slot in front of New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. In obvious pain on the bench, he did not return after the break.The continued absence of Karlsson – the team’s best player and once again a finalist for the Norris Trophy – would be catastrophic for the Senators.In a desperate attempt to shake up his team, Ottawa head coach Guy Boucher sat Anderson to start the third period and put in Mike Condon, who had not played in the playoffs.Condon was helpless as, just past the halfway mark of the final period, Chris Kreider was able to stuff a Ryan McDonagh rebound past him.Kyle Turris finally scored for Ottawa when he was able to fire a screen wrist shot past Lundqvist.A meaningless goal in a game that, whether a fan of the Rangers or the Senators, seemed filled with meaning. Tuesday it was a 4-1 loss they vowed to bounce back from. The Ottawa Senators can take some comfort that they are headed back to home ice.Leading two games to none when they arrived in New York City for the Eastern Conference semi-final, the Senators flew home late Thursday bruised in body and feelings after two consecutive crushing defeats by the New York Rangers. Miller got the puck back to Lindberg and Lindberg scored his second of the game on a lob shot Anderson should easily have caught.Karlsson had said the Senators would have to “create a little more chaos” in the New York end, but the chaos far more prevalent in the Ottawa end.Karlsson himself was soon lost to the effort when he appeared to injure his leg after sliding into the boards. And his team did what was necessary to make a brand-new series of it.Thanks to a curiosity in the regular-season standings, the Senators were given home ice even though the Rangers had the better record. Ottawa won the first two games at the Canadian Tire Centre and will return there Saturday afternoon for Game 5. Thursday it was again 4-1, with all bounces in the Rangers’ favour.“It was the most important game of the season for us,” Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault said. Karlsson put everything he had into the shot – snapping his stick as the puck skidded harmlessly onto a Rangers stick.The Rangers went ahead 2-0 early in the second period when rookie defender Ben Harpur fired a shot from the point directly into the shin pads of the Ranger checking him, leading to another breakaway by Grabner.Grabner held the puck until he drew Anderson to the side, then passed over to Oscar Lindberg, who had the open side of the net.Ottawa by now had settled back into the malaise that had been Game 3. Louis Blues and the local media were saying it was no disgrace to be swept by the then-invincible Montreal Canadiens.“What burned me,” Bowman said, “was that we hadn’t even played the fourth game yet.”The Ottawa Senators vowed that this game they would be “relentless.” They would play what is endlessly called “desperate” hockey.The Rangers certainly anticipated this. “Any time a game is 4-1,” New York defenceman Brendan Smith had said on the off day, “normally you get a kick in the butt and you respond – so we’re going to expect them to bring a hell of an effort.”The game began as expected. Game 6 will be back in New York and, if necessary, the Senators would have home ice for a decisive Game 7.So far, home ice has mattered – despite all the early NHL talk of it being relatively insignificant now.These two games at Madison Square Garden were not good for the fragile confidence of Senators fans who have never felt their franchise a certainty.On Ottawa talk radio, the talk included such phrases as “panic button” and “slipping away” even before Thursday’s tough loss.It was a reminder of one of Scotty Bowman’s great lines when he was coaching the St. Had it not been for Anderson, it might have been worse.He stopped Rick Nash three times alone in the second period on superb opportunities. Senators goaltender Craig Anderson, much criticized for a goal he gave away in Game 3, showed that he was fully focused less than 90 seconds into the match, when he made a marvellous save on a clear breakaway by Michael Grabner. Less than 10 minutes later, he blocked Kevin Hayes on a partial breakaway.While Anderson seemed returned to form, his team slowly returned to the trap, faux fore-check hockey that doomed them in Game 3. They lucked into a power play but could not even muster a shot on net.

Novak Djokovic splits with his longtime coach Marian Vajda

“I enjoy this journey, it feels like I am starting something new again.”Djokovic said he was thinking of hiring a new coach, but did not want to rush it.“I will be on the tour alone for a while with the support of my family and management,” he said. Open, and lost early again at the Australian Open. Novak Djokovic has split with his longtime coach Marian Vajda and two other team members, saying he wants to find “the winning spark on the court again.”Djokovic said on his website on Friday that he “mutually agreed” with Vajda, fitness coach Gebhard Phil Gritsch, and physiotherapist Miljan Amanovic to end their “successful and long term partnership” two weeks ago after the Monte Carlo Masters, where he lost in quarterfinals. He finished 2016 at No. 1 ranking to Andy Murray last year after a slump in form following his French Open triumph.He lost in the third round at Wimbledon, his earliest defeat in a Grand Slam in seven years, the first round at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, reached the final of the U.S. “Novak can do so much more and I am sure he will.”Djokovic said he believes this “shock therapy” will help him achieve better results.“I want to continue raising the level of my game and stamina and this is a continuous process,” Djokovic said. “It was not an easy decision, but we all felt that we need a change,” Djokovic said.Djokovic lost his No. 2, his current ranking.Vajda started working with Djokovic in 2006, and the last three seasons together with Boris Becker, who quit last year.“We arrived to the point where we all realized we need new energy in the team,” Vajda said on the website.

FIFA lifts Lionel Messi’s international suspension

Messi has already served one match of the ban, missing Argentina’s 2-0 defeat in Bolivia, and would also have sat out games away to Uruguay and home to Venezuela and Peru.The suspension had been imposed by FIFA’s disciplinary committee only hours before kickoff of the game in La Paz. Argentina coach Edgardo Bauza was fired following the defeat.FIFA’s appeal committee described Messi’s behavior as “reproachable.”However, it said that the “evidence available was not sufficient, according to the standards required….in sanctioning serious incidents which have been missed by match officials.”“The appeal committee nevertheless underlines the importance of always showing respect to the match officials, stressing that such a principle is essential in football,” it added.Television pictures showed him swearing at Brazilian linesman Emerson Augusto do Carvalho at the end of the match. Carvalho said he did not understand at the time what Messi was saying.Argentina are fifth in the 10-team South American group with 22 points from 14 games, two ahead of Ecuador and four ahead of Peru.The top four qualify directly for the tournament in Russia next year and the fifth-placed side go into a playoff against a team from Oceania for another spot in the global showpiece tournament. FIFA has lifted a four-match international suspension on Argentina forward Lionel Messi, world soccer’s ruling body said on Friday, in a significant boost to his team’s faltering World Cup qualifying campaign.Messi, 29, was banned for insulting an assistant referee during a qualifier against Chile in March, a decision based on television images as the incident was missed by match officials.

Sidney Crosby practises Friday, Game 5 status still unknown

He was around to support his teammates during their 3-2 win in Game 4 and skated in full gear during a scheduled off day Thursday before rejoining the group Friday.While Crosby appreciates the concern about his condition given his concussion history, he stressed he’s not rushing back. Crosby felt “as good as you could expect” Tuesday morning. “We trust our medical team, and when they tell us he’s OK, we’re confident Sid’s good.” “We’ll see,” Crosby said. The defenceman, who received a 5-minute major and a game misconduct for the cross-check, insisted it wasn’t intentional. He reserved judgment on Niskanen, a former teammate. Sidney Crosby returned to work Friday, practicing with his Pittsburgh Penguins teammates barely four days removed from a frightening hit that left the him with a concussion, and his status for the rest of the playoffs uncertain.While the two-time MVP declined to get into specifics whether he’ll be available for Game 5 at Washington on Saturday, he’s keeping his options open. Things happen fast out there.”Trotz “wouldn’t be surprised” if he saw Crosby’s familiar No. Washington coach Barry Trotz called it “a hockey play.”Crosby had no issue with his run-in with Ovechkin, calling it “standard” practice when you skate in front of the opponent’s net. 87 on Saturday night.“Sid is a very intelligent young man and he will make the right decision,” Trotz said.Pittsburgh forward Conor Sheary, who also sustained a concussion in Game 3 after inadvertently getting checked by teammate Patric Hornqvist, also practiced in full gear Friday. It’s not really up to me. I have a lot of belief in our staff here that they’re going to do everything in their power to make sure I’m good when I come back.”Crosby was skating in front of the Washington goal when he was knocked off-balance thanks to a whack from Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin before getting drilled by Niskanen. He needed nearly two years to recover from one sustained in January 2011, and missed two weeks when he was diagnosed with a concussion last October.There’s a chance the wait may be even shorter this time for Crosby, who led the league with 44 goals and has four goals and seven assists through eight playoff games. You relay how you feel and they kind of direct you from there.”Penguins coach Mike Sullivan is in no rush to make a decision on Crosby as the defending Stanley Cup champions try to close out the Capitals.“We’ll see how he responds (to practicing) and go from there,” Sullivan said.Still, the sight of Crosby on the ice and cleared for contact opens the possibility of Crosby playing in the near future — startling considering the way he left the ice in the first period of Game 3 on Monday after getting cross-checked in the head by Washington’s Matt Niskanen. Sullivan insisted the team is taking the same approach with Crosby.“We trust our doctors,” Sullivan said. The hit left him with his second concussion of the season and at least the fourth of his career. Crosby said the collision isn’t “one that happens too often,” but later added “it’s really tough to gauge that one. Like Crosby, Sheary’s status is day to day. Game 6 would be Monday night in Pittsburgh if necessary.“I think having gone through this I’d like to think I’m pretty aware of my body at this point,” he said. “I understand the importance of making sure you’re good before you come back. “I don’t want to rule it out. Penguins goaltender Matt Murray worked out before practice, a positive step as he recovers from a lower-body injury suffered during warm-ups before Game 1 of Pittsburgh’s first-round series against Columbus.With Marc-Andre Fleury playing so well, Murray can take his time getting back.