Ferrari are closer to Mercedes than results have suggested in this season’s two races and look like posing a real challenge, according to Formula One world championship leader Nico Rosberg.The German, who has scored a maximum 50 points after winning in Australia and Bahrain, told reporters he had no illusions about the challenge ahead.”We know Ferrari are super close, we saw it in qualifying and we need to keep pushing,” said Mercedes driver Rosberg. “They haven’t shown what they are able to do yet in these first two races.”They’ve had so many mishaps that have cost them dearly so we haven’t seen the real Ferrari yet. We need to be careful, they are coming at us strong.”While Mercedes have won the last eight races, and Rosberg five in a row, there was evidence to suggest Ferrari have closed the gap and could have won in Australia and Bahrain.In Melbourne, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen jumped Rosberg and triple champion team mate Lewis Hamilton at the start and potentially had a winning strategy until the race was stopped and re-started after Fernando Alonso’s big crash.Vettel finished third after a wrong tyre strategy call while Raikkonen retired with flames flickering from the airbox of his car in what looked like a turbo failure.In Bahrain, four-times world champion Vettel qualified in third place but retired before the start with a power unit failure.Raikkonen then made a poor start from fourth but still fought back to finish second, using exactly the same tyre strategy as Rosberg, just 10 seconds behind.advertisement”It’s clear we would have seen a different race if Sebastian had not been forced to retire before the start,” commented Mercedes motorsport director Toto Wolff.Ferrari principal Maurizio Arrivabene felt Raikkonen could have won with a better start even though Rosberg, now 17 points clear of Hamilton and 32 ahead of Raikkonen, controlled the pace from the front all evening.”Kimi had a bit of a problem at the start and I think that penalised him quite a lot…maybe he compromised the victory of the race,” said the Italian.”The way that Kimi drove during the race was spectacular, absolutely spectacular.”
FIVE Saints have been called into England Academy squad for the match against the Australian Institute of Sport at Leigh Sports Village on Sunday December 4 (3.00pm).England Academy coach Dave Elliott guided his charges to a 2-0 series win over the Australian Schoolboys last autumn and he’ll be hoping to see that success continue this year when the AIS arrive at Leigh.“We’re all very excited about getting back into camp and preparing to take on some of the best young players in the world,” he said. “We’re very excited about this group of players and because they are Under-17 instead of Under-18, it will be interesting to see how they cope with making the step up to the Academy level.“It’s a massive test for our lads and even more so because they’ll be playing against lads who are 18 and 19, but we have a lot of belief.“There’s been a feel-good factor in the Academy set-up which started after the series win last year and it’s had a domino effect since then. The new players in the squad have really picked up on that and we want to keep the momentum going now and take it into 2012.“The AIS are a talented outfit. They beat the French Under-17s 40-12 last week and they’re playing the French Under-19s as well so they will have some match practice before they play us. They’ll be a strong and powerful outfit, which is exactly what you’d expect from an Australian team, but we’ve got plenty of talent at our disposal as well.”England Academy Under-17 Squad:Ben Currie (Warrington Wolves, Golborne Parkside)Connor Farrell (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Pats)Connor Spencer (Bradford Bulls, Hunslet Warriors)Danny Yates (St Helens, Waterhead)Dom Speakman (St Helens, Widnes St Maries)George Williams (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Pats)Greg Richards (St Helens, Ulverston)Greg Wilde (St Helens, Golborne Parkside)Jack Cockerham (Bradford Bulls, Castleford Lock Lane)Jack Owens (Widnes Vikings, Farnsworth Hornets)James Cunningham (Hull FC, East Hull)James Duckworth (Leeds Rhinos, Whinmoor)James Saltonstall (Warrington Wolves, Siddall)John Bateman (Bradford Bulls, Dudley Hill)Jordan Baldwinson (Leeds Rhinos, Hunslet Warriors)Liam McAvoy (Bradford Bulls, Broughton Red Rose)Luke Briscoe (Leeds Rhinos, Featherstone Lions)Mark Percival (St Helens, Halton Hornets)Mike Learmonth (Warrington Wolves, Hunslet Warriors)Sam Doherty (Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, Hunslet Warriors)Stevie Ward (Leeds Rhinos, Hunslet Warriors)Tickets for the match are available the ticket office, online at www.leighsportsvillage.co.uk/tickets or by calling 01942 487888. Price: Adults £3, concessions £2. On matchday, cash turnstiles will be in operation. For ticketing enquiries please contact 01942 487888.Hospitality for the match is available at a cost of £14.99 per person. For further information or to book, please contact 01942 487830.