Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes suffer early setback in F1 pre-season testing in Bahrain

Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes suffer early setback in F1 pre-season testing in Bahrain

In other news from testing, Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur is set to miss the entirety of pre-season in Bahrain after testing positive for COVID-19.

A statement from the team said Vasseur would be following protocols set out by the French authorities and would be self-isolating at his home.

They say two days after a positive test, the team principal took a second test that returned negative, however in the interest of safety, he will not be travelling to Bahrain. The team also stated Vasseur hasn’t displayed symptoms and is in good spirits.

He will also remain fully operational and connected to the garage for the duration of the test, and no Deputy Team Principal will be named.

High blood pressure: Social isolation could trigger a rise in readings, study confirms

Social isolation could play a part in blood pressure readings shooting north, researchers discovered. Here are the details on a recent report published in the European Society of Cardiology. Dr Matías Fosco said: “The mandatory social isolation period [due to Covid restrictions] was linked with a 37 percent increase in the odds of having high blood pressure.” This link remained irregardless of age, sex, season, and time of consultation.
“After social isolation began, we observed that more patients coming to emergency had high blood pressure,” said Dr Fosco.

The practitioner added: “We conducted this study to confirm or reject this impression.”

The doctor and his research fellows at Favaloro Foundation University Hospital, in Buenos Aires, collated data during March 20 to June 25, 2020.

In that time period, those in the hospital’s emergency department had their blood pressure recorded.

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This means almost every patient admitted in those time periods were included in the study.

There were 12,241 records of blood pressure readings for patients who, on average, were around 57 years old.

The most common reasons why people were in the emergency department consisted of:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Hypertension

During the three-month isolation period, 1,643 patients were admitted to the emergency ward.

This was 56.9 percent less than the patients admitted to the same ward, in the same time period the year before, which consisted of 3,810 patients.

The number of patients in the hospital’s emergency department was also 53.9 percent less than the three months prior to social isolation restrictions.

Before Covid restrictions were implemented, there were 3,563 patients who had been admitted to the emergency department in three months.

During the social isolation period, 23.8 percent admitted to emergency had high blood pressure.

This was significantly higher than the same period in 2019, which was 17.5 percent of people in the emergency department with high blood pressure.

It was also much higher than the time period just before the social restrictions were enforced, when it was 15.4 percent.

Dr Fosco commented on the findings: “There are several possible reasons for the connection between social isolation and high blood pressure.”

He mentioned increased levels of stress, limited social contact, financial difficulties and behaviour changes, such as higher intake of food and alcohol, and a more sedentary lifestyle.

James Bond: Sean Connery’s 007 movies had an influence on WandaVision

Last week saw the conclusion of Marvel Studios’ WandaVision on Disney+. While fans only have to wait until next week for The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, today saw documentary Assembled: The Making of WandaVision drop on the streaming service. During the behind-the-scenes interviews, it was revealed that Sir Sean Connery’s James Bond movies had an influence on WandaVision’s 1960s sitcom setting.
Oscar-winning songwriting couple Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, who co-wrote Frozen’s songs, were tasked with composing the WandaVision jingle and all six sitcom era opening themes from the 1950s to the present day.

The duo said how they wanted to sign up for the ambitious project straight away and began planning how to get the right sound for each decade.

They said: “You look at the influences of the period and the instrumentation of the period and the language of the period.”

The pair would have a half an hour call with the showrunners for each sitcom era but doubled up for the Fifties and Sixties.

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The songwriters would talk about their favourites from each period and what they were really drawn to, which became the things that they then tried to emulate the most.

Kristen and Robert said they felt confident with the Fifties but had to really think about the Sixties.

They said: “All agreed that Bewitched, in particular, was a thing, but we also looked at the James Bond movies, we looked at Burt Bacharach.

“Whatever was going on with the pop culture of that time making sure to reference the bebop jazz and Swinging Sixties culture.”

No doubt they had a good look at the background music in Connery’s first five Bond movies from Dr No to You Only Live Twice.

Black Panther producer Nate Moore reiterated Coogler’s feelings of Bond’s impact on the movie.

According to Screen Rant, he said: “This is going to sound crazy, but we’ve always thought of Black Panther as a James Bond kind of movie, right? Sort of this big globetrotting epic.”

But when talking with Coogler, one of the ideas he also liked was this sort of Godfather-kind of story. 

Moore added: “When I say Godfather, it’s the idea that it’s very much a story about family and a story about an organisation where new leadership is taking place.”

Moore continued: “And much like the Godfather, you have to fight for things, right? And they’re all vying for power and in this case, it’s power over Wakanda. I think Killmonger sees Wakanda as something that could be used differently than it currently is in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and that puts him directly at odds with T’Challa.”

“You get to go around the world a little bit. We thought that was important. Again, sort of in our James Bond comparison we wanted it to feel like it did have some scope and wasn’t just a movie that was set in Wakanda.

“Not that Wakanda isn’t fascinating and not that we couldn’t explore that forever, but it did want to feel like a movie that had ramifications beyond the borders. So you do get to be outside of the country as well as explore the country.”

WandaVision is streaming now on Disney+, while Black Panther 2 is set for a summer 2022 release.

PS Plus News: Sony adds new free PlayStation 4 game exclusive

PS Plus subscribers can download a brand new giveaway from Sony directly from the PlayStation Store.

And while it isn’t a new free game that can be downloaded on PS4 or PS5, it is something exclusive for a leading title.

It has been confirmed that a new Call of Duty Warzone and Cold War bundle can be downloaded from the PS Store.

Like many of the others listed on PS4 and PS5 consoles, this latest bundle is only available to those who own a PlayStation Plus subscription.

It’s a free bundle, described as being inspired by the jungle warfare in Season Two of Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War and Call of Duty: Warzone.

This will unlock fresh content, including weapon blueprints and operators skins, all of which will remain exclusive to the PlayStation platform until November 1, 2021.

Anyone who claims during the month of March will unlock the following items:
  • Epic Operator Skin for Baker
  • Epic Tactical Rifle Blueprint
  • Epic Pistol Blueprint
  • Epic Tactical Knife Blueprint
  • Epic Weapon Charm
  • Legendary Calling Card
  • 60-minute Double XP Token

And unlike the other freebies on the PlayStation Plus subscription service, the Combat Pack for Warzone will not disappear after you end your PS Plus ownership.

While Final Fantasy 7 Remake and Destruction AllStars will disappear from your list of games, the Warzone Combat Pack will remain available.

The new Warzone Combat Pack is available alongside these other free games for the remainder of March:

Final Fantasy VII Remake | PS4

Square Enix’s modern reimagining of its iconic RPG boasts unforgettable characters, a mind-blowing story and epic battles. Return to the city of Midgar as Cloud Strife, former member of Shinra’s elite SOLDIER unit now turned mercenary, lends his aid to the resistance group Avalanche.

Remnant: From the Ashes | PS4

In this third-person survival action shooter, play as one of the last remnants of humanity attempting to retake a world overrun by monstrous, interdimensional invaders. Venture into dynamically-generated worlds alone or with up to two other survivors*, scavenging for supplies and modding your equipment to strengthen your chances of survival when tackling over 100 deadly varieties of enemy and battling epic bosses.

Maquette | PS5

All that is tiny is simultaneously huge in this intriguing first-person puzzler designed around a Escher-esque recursive simulation. Making its PlayStation 5 debut as part of next month’s PlayStation Plus lineup, Maquette sets you in the centre of a world the rules of which are very different from our own. Solutions to puzzles require you to twist the world recursively – manipulating the landscape of a diorama will see those changes mirrored in the life-sized version that surrounds you.

Farpoint | PS VR

Master an arsenal of weapons to keep yourself alive on a hostile alien world in this free-roaming, first-person PS VR shooter. Optimised for the PlayStation VR Aim controller and fully playable with a DualShock wireless controller, strikeout towards your crashed space station solo or with a friend in online co-op. Trade alien threats for testing each other’s skills in a variety of Versus game modes.

Destruction AllStars | PS5

Destruction AllStars has a second month’s residency in PlayStation Plus and will leave the service on April 5, 2021. Take to the arena to partake in controlled car-crunching mayhem and parkour thrills with this supercharged multiplayer title. Master the unique abilities of 16 superstar competitors to come out on top across four game modes against other players online.

March Madness 2021: Fun facts to get ready for tournament tip-off

March Madness is back after the coronavirus pandemic cancelled the tournament in 2020. Here are some moments in basketball history that will continue to live on.

Without an NCAA men’s basketball tournament in 2020, it will be a historic moment when the 68 teams with championship dreams take the court this March. 

While the coronavirus pandemic will still alter the way March Madness looks this year, there are still some moments in basketball history that will continue to live on.
March Madness, as the tournament is called, is a competition between some of the best teams in NCAA Division I level basketball. Played in a single-elimination bracket form, the competition often spurs betting pools with winners trying to best predict who will make it to the Final Four and win the championship.

How is it working with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic?

The tournament was cancelled last year, for the first time in 81 years, due to the coronavirus pandemic. March Madness is back in 2021 but with new provisions to limit the spread of the virus.
For the first time ever, the tournament will be held in one state: Indiana. Most of the tournament’s 67 games will be played in Indianapolis, with some games played in West Lafayette and Bloomington.
According to the NCAA, to maintain distance, teams will live on assigned hotel floors with distanced meeting and dining room spaces. Secure transportation for teams will also be provided.

When did March Madness start?

March Madness began 82 years ago and has been held every year, except for the 2019-2020 season. Back in 1939, the Oregon Ducks were victorious against only eight teams. The tournament kept expanding until 1985 when the 64-team tournament format was established. More teams were added in the 2000s to bring a total of 68 teams to the tournament.  

History behind March Madness name

The phrase was traced back to Illinois high school official Henry V. Porter who used the phrase in 1939, according to the NCAA. However, the name didn’t make it to the tournament until CBS broadcaster and former Chicago sportswriter Brent Musburger used the phrase during coverage of the 1982 tournament.
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Highest Paid NCAA coach

While NCAA athletes remain unpaid, the head coaches’ salaries make up for it with their hefty salaries. According to USA Today Sports, University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari made $ 8,158,000, more than any other NCAA basketball head coach, in 2020. Following Calipari, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski and Mick Cronin of UCLA make $ 7,256,924 and $ 5,500,00, respectively. Rounding out the top five: Tennessee’s Rick Barnes making $ 4.7 million and Texas Tech’s Chris Beard making $ 4.4 million

Perfect Bracket chances

For many, making a solid bracket may lead you to some cash or some serious bragging rights among friends or family. But for any experienced bracket maker, they know some luck is involved too.
Although, picking the perfect bracket is nearly impossible. 
According to the NCAA, the chances of having a perfect bracket are 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 (9 quintillion) if you guess or flip a coin. For those who know a bit more about basketball your chances increase to 1 in 120.2 billion.
In previous years, billionaire Warren Buffet has offered $ 1 billion to anyone who has had a perfect bracket, no one claimed the prize when he offered it in 2014. He even offered $ 1 million a year to any of his employees who correctly predicted which teams made it into the Sweet 16 of the men’s tournament. However, no one could even guess that.

Biggest upset in history

In 2018, 16-seed University of Maryland – Baltimore County upset 1-seed Virginia with a 74-54 win. It was the first time in tournament history that a 16-seed beat a 1-seed. It instantly became one of the greatest upsets in March Madness history. 
Just one year later, Virginia would beat Texas Tech in Overtime to win the 2019 NCAA championship. 

NCAA Tournament appearances and wins

The University of Kentucky has appeared 58 times in the tournament and has had 129 NCAA tournament game wins. The University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill follows Kentucky in both categories with 50 tournament appearances and 126 tournament wins.
Kentucky only falls behind the University of California – Los Angeles for the number of NCAA champion wins. UCLA has 11 championship wins compared to Kentucky’s eight wins.

Billy Connolly's blunt Brexit swipe to those with 'no idea about EU funding'

Billy Connolly discusses Parkinson’s and cancer diagnoses

The Scottish performer, 78, said he felt “comfortable in his skin” after announcing his retirement from stand-up comedy four months ago. Sir Billy, known as ‘The Big Yin’ meaning ‘the big one’, retired after five decades in entertainment due to his worsening battle with Parkinson’s disease. The TV star, who will publish his first autobiography later this year, has been increasingly vocal in the Brexit debate in recent years.
Despite his clear Brexit stance, Sir Billy initially refused to weigh-in on the Scottish Independence debate because he feared “influencing anybody”.

His concerns led him to abstain from voting in the nation’s referendum, which he dubbed “morass”.

While the star kept his thoughts about Independence quiet, he was extremely vocal about Brexit. 

In 2018, Sir Billy told the Sunday Times that the decision to leave the EU was “a disaster” and branded it a “con-job”.

Billy Connolly branded Boris Johnson a ‘f***ing soft boy’ and Brexit a ‘con’ (Image: GETTY / SKY NEWS)

Billy Connolly initially seemed to oppose Scottish Independence before a U-turn over the Brexit vote (Image: GETTY)

He felt the “breaking up of Europe” was a “crime bordering on sin” and urged Scotland to “keep our contact” with the bloc.

In Scotland, 62 percent of the public voted Remain in the EU referendum – while 52 percent of the UK voted for Brexit. 

He argued that “becoming independent from England… may just be the way to go” if it meant the nation could keep close to the EU.

Sir Billy, who is a self-professed “anglophile”, admitted: “I never thought I would say that.”

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Billy Connolly waved goodbye to stand-up comedy with a farewell documentary on ITV last year (Image: ITV)

In 2019, he admitted to feeling “relief” over being “a few thousand miles away from Brexit”, during a Guardian interview.

Sir Billy lives in an impressive five-bedroom home in Key West, Florida, which was estimated at £2.3million ($ 3.2million) by Virtual Globetrotting.

Since living in the US, he claimed to have “kept away from all the madness” from former US President Donald Trump.

But then Sir Billy took a swipe at British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, by telling the Guardian: “Look who you’ve got now over here.”

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Sir Billy expressed his concerns over why people voted for Brexit and when asked about the Leave campaign said: “What a con!”

He argued that “the Prime Minister was the biggest con of all” and called Mr Johnson a “f***ing soft boy”.

Sir Billy kept an eye on the Brexit debate from across the pond and watched people being interviewed in south Wales on US TV.

He noted: “How pleased they were to have voted out of Europe.”

Billy Connolly spoke to Sky News about his departure from stand-up comedy after 50 years (Image: SKY NEWS)

In the 2016 EU referendum, 52.5 percent of Wales voted for Brexit.

Sir Billy was concerned that the public did not understand what they could lose after leaving the bloc.

He said: “They showed all the things that the EU had funded in their town.

“They had no idea, it’s completely nuts.”

Sir Billy’s thoughts about Brexit led him to call for Scotland to vote to become an independent country. 

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In 2014, he told the Radio Times that people should “get together, not split apart” – in a statement that hinted he was against independence. 

Sir Billy said he didn’t believe in “more layers of Government” that “ordinary people will have to pay for” – but argued togetherness was better than separation.

He said: “The more people stay together, the happier they’ll be.”

But in a 2018 Sunday Times interview, Sir Billy seemed to have changed his mind and argued Scotland should keep close to the EU.

Billy Connolly was knighted by Prince William in 2017 and described it as ‘a big bit nerve-racking’ (Image: GETTY)

Last year, he confirmed he “would like” to see Scotland become an independent nation, in the BBC show Billy and Us.

Sir Billy claimed to have “never liked nationalism in any of its guises” but explained he was open to the idea of independence. 

He said: “I think a Scottish republic is as good an idea as any I ever heard.”

But Sir Billy, who admitted his politics changed on a “daily” basis, countered: “I don’t represent anybody or anything – I don’t think it’s wise to.”

Roger Federer changes comeback plans as Swiss pulls out of Dubai after Qatar Open issue

Roger Federer has confirmed that he has decided to pull out of the Dubai Tennis Championships following his defeat to Nikoloz Basilashvili at the Qatar Open, in order to prioritise his recovery. The Swiss legend made his return to the court for the first time since the Australian Open in January 2020 following a hefty lay-off after knee surgery.
Federer edged Brit Dan Evans in the Round of 16 before his Georgian opponent rained on his parade yesterday, coming from behind to beat Federer 3-6 6-1 7-5.

Before the venture, which Federer described as a “stepping stone”, the 20-time Grand Slam champion outlined his hopes of competing at the French Open, Wimbledon and the Olympics.

In order to achieve that, there is an understanding that Federer may have to sit out other parts of the ATP Tour, including Dubai.

Federer confirmed on Twitter that he’s decided to withdraw, in order to look after his own condition.

He said: “It’s been great to be back on the @atptour, loved every minute playing in Doha once again. A big thank you to the best and loyal team that helped me get here.

“I’ve decided it’s best to go back to training and as a result, I’ve decided to withdraw from Dubai next week.”

The 39-year-old also admitted after his defeat to Basilashvili that he was experiencing shoulder pain, after playing back-to-back days in Doha.

“The whole shoulder has muscle pain, but that comes I think with the pressure,” Federer said. “When you’ve got your back against the wall, you’ve got to crank one out. Overall the body is actually fine. I’m happy — it could be much worse.”

It’s not the first time this season that Federer has decided to pull out of a competition, having also withdrawn from the Miami Open.

Federer has already hinted that he will feature at the French Open where Rafael Nadal could win his 14th title, which could prove to be a record-breaking 21st major.

“What comes before the grass courts are the clay courts,” Federer said. “So from that standpoint, I have no choice but to play on clay if I want to play matches.

“It could be good for me, the clay. It could be bad for me, the clay. So I will only know in practice, but I don’t think it’s going to be bad, to be honest.”

Federer was not afraid to admit that he wasn’t too disheartened by his elimination in Qatar, given that he wanted to ease his way back into action.

Speaking to reporters after the loss, Federer said he was “already over it” and labelled the experience regarding his return as “positive”.

The seasoned veteran was able to get back-to-back three-set matches under his belt in his bid to regain full fitness.

In today’s semi-finals in Doha, Roberto Bautista Agut takes on Andrey Rublev after beating Dominic Thiem yesterday while American Taylor Fritz looks to edge Basilashvili.

Is AstraZeneca safe? Blood clot report explained as experts say benefits outweigh risks

The UK’s AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved by both the European Medicines Agency and the World Health Organisation, based on a global clinical program involving 23,000 participants. The company said at the time: “All of these evaluations have concluded that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective.” But this week, Denmark and Norway suspended the use of the jab over fears it could be linked to blood clots.
The decision came after a number of patients developed clots after having the vaccine, including a 50-year-old man in Italy who died after developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

One 49-year-old woman in Austria died from “severe coagulation disorders”, and a pulmonary embolism put another in the hospital.

Health authorities have now launched an investigation into the reports and vaccine.

The suspension marks another setback for the European vaccination rollout that is only now beginning to stutter to life after a delayed start.

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“The vaccine’s benefits continue to outweigh its risks and the vaccine can continue to be administered while investigation of cases of thromboembolic events is ongoing.”

The agency added fears may have come from one particular batch but ruled potential defects “unlikely”.

The EMA added: “Batch ABV5300 was delivered to 17 EU countries1 and comprises 1 million doses of the vaccine.”

“Some EU countries have also subsequently suspended this batch as a precautionary measure, while a full investigation is ongoing.

“Although a quality defect is considered unlikely at this stage, the batch quality is being investigated.”

The UK became the first country to approve the AstraZeneca jab, developed by researchers at Oxford University, earlier this year.

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In a statement released today, AstraZeneca said it found no increased risk of blood clotting.

The firm said: “An analysis of our safety data of more than 10 million records has shown no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis in any defined age group, gender, batch or in any particular country with COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca.

“In fact, the observed number of these types of events are significantly lower in those vaccinated than what would be expected among the general population.”

AstraZeneca added incidence of clotting-related disorders was lower in the people they tested compared to the general populace.

The EU’s Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) has taken charge of investigating the jab.

The committee will assess the batch and any potential “thromboembolic events” associated with it.

Freddie Mercury: Queen celebrate 50th anniversary with series on their greatest moments

It added: “Some of these moments will be familiar, others rare or forgotten, some record-breaking milestones, others quirky and unusual but all of which remind us of the impact Queen has maintained for five decades and continues through to today.”

Queen The Greatest’s creators also teased what’s in store for the first few weeks of YouTube videos.

They said: “First months of the regular weekly output will see it celebrate classic hits such as Killer Queen, Somebody To Love and, of course, Bohemian Rhapsody, along with iconic performances at London’s The Rainbow, Hammersmith Odeon and the band’s massive outdoor Hyde Park concert.

“In addition, revealing some gems from the band’s first tours abroad to Europe, Scandinavia, and North America.”

Argos PS5 restock live: Latest PlayStation 5 stock update rolls out in March

UPDATE: If you’re looking to get hold of a PS5 console today, then you’ll need to enter your location when ordering from Argos.

As you can see from the tweet below, buying from Argos can be a little confusing, so good luck getting hold of one.

ORIGINAL: An Argos PS5 restock is currently underway, although it does come with some limitations.

According to the latest news from customers in queues, the Argos PS5 stock update is rolling out regionally.

This means that PlayStation 5 stock may not have dropped in your area, or may have already finished.

Advice from stock tracker accounts on social media suggests using the Argos app rather than the website.

Gamers are also being warned that they will need to add the PlayStation 5 console to their wishlist before checking out in order to complete the purchase.

The first Argos next-gen consoles began dropping around 2am in the UK, meaning that some areas will have already received their stock allocation.

The best thing to do at this point is to check the Argos app and see what message is being displayed on the PS5 page.

The Xbox Series X is also reportedly back in stock at Argos; however, it’s unclear at this time how much next-gen stock the retailer has.

And some console hunters have been sharing their success stories online, following months of trying to track down a new console.

One successful buyer confirmed: “After months of getting up early and staying up late to get my hands on a PS5. Through app crashes and websites not working, I have finally bagged myself one up here in Liverpool.”

Another adds: “It drops in different regions at different times, so just be patient and keep refreshing and it should be available soon enough.”

More PS5 stock is expected to drop before the end of March, with demand remaining sky-high for the new next-gen console.

Stock constraints are expected to continue in April and are unlikely to ease off until later this year, possibly as late as Summer 2021.