Hamilton All Smiles After Qualifying Fourth

MONTREAL, QUEBEC – JUNE 18: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes rides a scooter in the Paddock after qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Canada at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 18, 2022 in Montreal, Quebec. Clive Rose/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by CLIVE ROSE / Getty Images via AFP)

 

Twenty-four hours after lambasting his car as “un-driveable” and the worst of his Formula One career, Lewis Hamilton smiled with joy after qualifying fourth for Mercedes at the Canadian Grand Prix.

The seven-time world champion and record seven-time winner at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, where he claimed his maiden F1 success in 2007, said he felt “amazing.”

“I am so happy, to have P4 is so good – I never felt so good to be P4 or at least not for a long time since my early days in 2007 or 2008,” Hamilton said. “It feels like that – so good, to be honest.”

Heavy rain and a wet track worked out well for Hamilton and Mercedes in an unpredictable session that produced some unexpected results with 40-year-old two-time champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso grabbing second on the grid for Alpine alongside world champion Max Verstappen’s Red Bull.

READ ALSO: Zelensky Vows To Retake South, NATO Warns Of Long War

“It feels so great,” added Hamilton. “It’s been such a difficult year and it was so tough out there today in those conditions so I am happy for everyone in the team – they are working so hard.”

He said the roller-coaster switch in his form and fortunes came after much overnight effort to revise the set-up of his car after he and team-mate George Russell had gone in different directions on Friday.

“I am hoping it all works again tomorrow and we can at least hold position in the race – but with this car we need everything and more to come together!”

AFP

FIRST 11: Serena Williams’ Chelsea Ownership Push+Top Sports Stories This Week

 

With the sanctions on Russian businesses biting harder, the quest for a new Chelsea owner has been ramped up. This time, tennis icon Serena Williams and F1 great Lewis Hamilton, are the ones pushing to own a stake in the Premier League club.  

The Super Eagles also knew their opponents for the 2023 AFCON qualifiers just as the team’s former coach Gernot Rohr awaits FIFA’s verdict over his sack.  These and more are some of the top sports stories covered in First 11 this week.

READ ALSO: Chelsea Bidders Set To Discover Their Fate

Condolences Pour As Ronaldo Loses Baby

We kick off from England where torrents of condolence messages have been poured in for Cristiano Ronaldo following his son’s death. The former Real Madrid star and wife confirmed their baby boy’s demise in a social media post.

Manchester United, his former clubs, players, and fans thronged social media to comfort the multiple Champions League winner over the sad incident.

The Portuguese star was excused from United’s tie with Liverpool earlier in the week. He, however, was available for selection as the Red Devils lost to Arsenal on Saturday.

Maguire Gets Bomb Threat

Still in Manchester United. Team captain Harry Maguire received a bomb threat but it was unknown who was behind it.

Cheshire Constabulary swept the 29-year-old’s home to ensure his safety. Maguire was up for selection against the Gunners.

The English defender, who stays with his fiancee and two kids, is having a turbulent campaign and has been the subject of stinging criticism from pundits and jeers from fans.

Man United Name Coach

Meanwhile, Manchester United has appointed Erik ten Hag as their manager next season.

The 52-year-old, who has signed a three-year contract, faces a huge task to revive the Red Devils’ fortunes after a fifth consecutive trophyless season. The Dutchman becomes the fifth permanent manager at Old Trafford since Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 sent the 20-time English champions into decline.

Drogba, Others Inducted Into EPL Hall of Fame

Equally, Manchester United legend, Paul Scholes was in the news this week. The Englishman joined Didier Drogba and Sergio Aguero as the latest inductee into the EPL Hall of Fame.

Vincent Kompany, Ian Wright, and Peter Schmeichel alongside Wayne Rooney and Patrick Vieira are also in the “Class of 2022” inductees.

Serena, Hamilton Join Chelsea Bid

For Man United’s rivals, Chelsea, the sanctions on owner Roman Abramovich over Russia’s war with Ukraine are set to cause major changes in the team. The club has been up for sale and tennis icon Serena Williams as well as Formula 1 legend Lewis Hamilton have expressed interest in having a stake in the London side.

They will be investing about £20m into a consortium to buy Chelsea and both are part of a group of investors backing the European champions’ takeover offer spearheaded by Sir Martin Broughton.

Serena and Hamilton have each pledged £10m to the bid. Lord Coe is believed to be part of the British-led consortium.

Russia, Belarussian Players Banned From Wimbledon

Aside from football, the Russian-Ukraine war is creating ripples in other sports. Earlier in the week, Russian players were barred from Wimbledon. Belarussian players were also affected, the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) said.

US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev; Aryna Sabalenka, and women’s four Victoria Azarenka are some of the top players affected. The move drew wide criticism from players, fans, and others stakeholders in the tennis world.

But Russian officials have rejected the ban, describing it as “unacceptable”.

Nigeria Paired For AFCON Qualifiers

In Nigeria, the Super Eagles were paired with Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, and either Sao Tome or Mauritius in the qualifiers for next year’s AFCON. The draws were held in Jo’burg, South Africa, and qualifications for the tournament will start in May.

The Super Eagles, who failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, will also be aiming to make amends for their early exit at the last AFCON. The Super Eagles failed to qualify for the 2015 and 2017 editions and won bronze in Egypt in 2019.

Rohr Awaits FIFA Verdict

The development came as a former coach of the team, Gernot Rohr, awaits FIFA’s verdict over his sack. Rohr had reported the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to the football body for breaching contractual terms.

Reports suggest that FIFA had concluded their investigations and are set to deliver judgment on the $1m claims being made by former Niger Republic gaffer. The Franco-German had met all conditions in his contract but was sacked with one year left in the deal. While the NFF said it would pay Rohr his salary until the end of his contract, the ex-Niger boss took the NFF to FIFA. He is seeking compensation for his ‘unfair’ dismissal.

Kano Pillars Sanctioned, Banished

On the local scene, Kano Pillars were sanctioned for fans’ hooliganism. The former Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) champions were fined N9m and banished to Abuja for the rest of the season following the incident which took place last weekend. The club’s fans have, however, condemned the attack which led to the destruction of the visiting team’s bus.

Pele Hospitalised Again

Away from Nigeria, football great Pele was hospitalized in Sao Paulo as part of his treatment for colon cancer.

But the clinical condition of Edson Arantes do Nascimento is “good and stable, and he should be discharged from hospital in the next few days,” the Albert Einstein Hospital said on Tuesday.

Before his diagnosis of colon cancer, which led to Pele being hospitalized for a month last year, the former star of Santos and the Brazilian team was hospitalized in Paris in 2019 and transferred to Sao Paulo to have a kidney stone removed.

Five years before then, he was in intensive care due to a urinary tract infection that forced him to undergo dialysis on his left kidney. The right one was removed in the 1970s due to an injury when he was still a player.

Maradona Shirt Auction Opens

The auction for the jersey worn by Pele’s late friend, Diego Maradona, when he scored twice against England in the 1986 World Cup, including the infamous “hand of God” goal, kicked off with a bid of over $5 million.

Sotheby’s is selling the blue number 10 Argentina shirt in an online sale that runs until May 4. Hours after bidding opened, the site showed that the first offer of £4 million ($5.2 million) — matching the low end of the auction house’s pre-sale estimate — had been registered. That would set a new record price for a football jersey at auction.

The record for a game-worn shirt from any sport is $5.6 million, set in 2019 for a jersey Babe Ruth wore while on the New York Yankees.

F1 Star Hamilton To Change Name To Honour Mother

Mercedes’ British F1 Driver Lewis Hamilton speaks at Expo Dubai 2020 in the Gulf emirate on March 14, 2022. (Photo by Karim SAHIB / AFP)

 

Seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton will change his name to honour his mother Carmen Larbalestier, he revealed on Monday as he prepares to challenge for a record eighth world title.

The 37-year-old said he would add his mother’s surname to his — most likely racing as Lewis Hamilton-Larbalestier — in a move that would take place “soon”.

“My mum’s name is Larbalestier and I’m just about to put that in my name,” the Mercedes driver said in an on-stage interview at the Expo world fair in Dubai.

“Because I don’t really fully understand the whole idea when people get married then the woman loses her name.

“And my mum, I really want her name to continue on with the Hamilton name.”

Hamilton said he was “working on” the name change but that it would not take effect for this week’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

Larbalestier divorced Lewis’s father, Anthony Hamilton, when their son was young but he lived with his mother until the age of 12.

The Briton, who was pipped to his eighth world title in controversial circumstances at last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, was non-committal about his future, saying he was taking it “one day at a time”.

But Hamilton, who took a two-month break from social media before reappearing in February, added: “I’ve come back to fight for that eighth (title), that’s what I’m here for.”

“Doing something that no one else has done, of course would be mind-blowing,” he said, adding that an eighth title would mean “everything”.

– ‘Difficult period’ –

Hamilton admitted it had been a “different” off-season and described Abu Dhabi, where he was beaten to the title by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen after a contentious last-lap restart, as “a difficult period of time”.

But he said: “I still love what I do. I still am so challenged. I didn’t think at this age I would feel so sharp and so energised.

“I’m still getting up for my morning runs, still fitting those workouts in, still putting the time in, more than the youngsters do.”

Hamilton, the first black F1 driver and a powerful voice in the Black Lives Matter movement, also said he was heavily invested in making the sport more ethnically diverse.

Last year’s Hamilton Commission report, conducted with Britain’s Royal Academy of Engineering, produced recommendations aimed at getting more ethnic minorities involved in motorsport and the sciences.

“I’ve had all these years where I was having this success but not really understanding why I was the only person of colour to get through to this role and not only that, but be at the forefront of (the sport),” he said.

“I’m really leaning on all the leaders of our sport to do what’s right… so hopefully, in the next five, 10 years, you’re going see the sport looking a lot more like this place,” he told the multicultural crowd at Expo, which features pavilions from more than 190 countries.

Lewis Hamilton Receives Knighthood After F1 Heartbreak


Mercedes’ British F1 driver Lewis Hamilton poses with his medal after being appointed as a Knight Bachelor (Knighthood) for services to motorsports, by Britain’s Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, during an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle in Windsor, west of London on December 15, 2021. Andrew Matthews / POOL / AFP

 

Lewis Hamilton may have missed out on a record-breaking eighth Formula One title in controversial fashion, but his glittering career was recognised on Wednesday as he was knighted by the Prince of Wales at Windsor Castle.

The 36-year-old was recognised in the New Year Honours list for services to motor sport following a year in which he eclipsed Michael Schumacher’s all-time tally for Grand Prix wins and emulated the German by winning a seventh world title.

But on Sunday, championship rival Max Verstappen claimed his first Formula One world title after a season-long battle with Hamilton came down to a one-lap shoot-out in Abu Dhabi.

READ ALSO: Sergio Aguero Retires From Football

The deployment of the safety car after a late crash at the Yas Marina Circuit wiped out Hamilton’s seemingly unassailable lead and Verstappen had the advantage as he was using fresher tyres.

On Wednesday, Hamilton was joined by his mother Carmen Lockhart and was all smiles as they posed for pictures in the castle’s quadrangle.

However, he declined to speak to reporters afterwards.

Hamilton reportedly told his engineers “this has been manipulated” moments after the title was snatched away from him, but he was later magnanimous towards Verstappen in post-race interviews.

He is the fourth F1 driver to be knighted, following in the footsteps of Australian Jack Brabham and Britons Stirling Moss and Jackie Stewart, and the first to be awarded the honour while still competing.

AFP

Ricciardo Wins F1 Italian GP As Hamilton, Verstappen Crash Out

Winner McLaren’s Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo celebrates during the podium ceremony after the Italian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Nazionale circuit in Monza, on September 12, 2021. (Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP)

 

Daniel Ricciardo won the Formula One Italian Grand Prix on Sunday as the Australian took advantage of Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen’s dramatic crash which eliminated both championship rivals.

Ricciardo was followed by his McLaren teammate Lando Norris in the British team’s first win since the 2012 Brazilian GP, while Valtteri Bottas inherited third, despite starting in last place, due to a five-second time penalty for Sergio Perez.

Red Bull’s Verstappen still leads seven-time world champion Hamilton by five points at the top of the drivers’ standings as they both finished in the gravel following their crash halfway through the race.

Ricciardo, whose father is from Italy, was delighted with not only his first win since Monaco in 2018 but also McLaren’s first one-two finish in 11 years, greeting the fans in Italian with a huge smile on his face.

“To lead literally from start to finish, I don’t think any of us expected that. There was something in me on Friday, I knew something good was to come,” said Ricciardo.

“To not only win but to get a one-two, it’s insane. For McLaren to be on the podium it’s huge, let alone one-two… For once I’m lost for words.”

The 32-year-old promised “total attack” after starting second on the grid and capitalised on the most dramatic moment of an eventful race when Hamilton re-entered the Monza track from the pit lane.

Vertsappen tried to dart past Hamilton just after the Briton’s pit stop but ended up with his back wheel rolling over the top of his rival’s Mercedes, narrowly missing Hamilton’s head.

Both drivers then slid into the gravel and were forced to retire from the race, which Hamilton was hoping to make his 100th Grand Prix victory.

Vertsappen was reportedly furious at Hamilton, saying his rival gave him “no space” in a crash which will be investigated by officials after the race

The pair then gave each other the blame in their post-race comments, with Hamilton saying he had given way in a similar position to Verstappen earlier while the Dutchman insisted Hamilton “pushed” him into the trackside sausage kerb.

– ‘Awesome weekend’ –

Ricciardo then powered to victory backed up by his teammate Norris who was also in good spirits after an impressive second-placed finish.

“We’ve had a pretty awesome weekend,” the British driver said.

“We’ve been working towards this and we got a one-two finally. I’m happy for of course Daniel for getting the win.”

Verstappen started the race on pole after finishing second behind Bottas in Saturday’s sprint, but dropped back to second at the start as Ricciardo pipped ahead.

Hamilton made an immediate move from fourth, overtaking Norris and then trying to get at Verstappen, only to finish off the track before quickly re-entering back in fourth.

The real drama started just as the drivers started making their first pit stops.

First Ricciardo went to the pits, giving up the lead, before Verstappen dropped back to 10th after a long pit stop on lap 23 which gave Hamilton the chance to push past Norris and take the lead.

Hamilton then pitted himself on lap 25 before clashing with Verstappen almost immediately after his exit, the two cars meeting in a chicane and then finishing in a mess at the side of the track.

With the title-chasing duo gone and chaos on the track, Hamilton’s teammate Bottas, who will join Alfa Romeo next season, completed a hugely impressive weekend by finishing fourth, promoted to third after Perez’s penalty.

He had started at the back of the grid despite winning Saturday’s sprint race as punishment for taking on power unit components in qualifying on Friday.

“Starting from the back, it’s never easy,” said Bottas.

“I’m glad we get more points than Red Bull, we maximised and from my side, it was good fun.”

AFP

Hamilton Wins Record-Equalling Seventh F1 World Title

Winner Mercedes’ British driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates on the podium after the Turkish Formula One Grand Prix at the Intercity Istanbul Park circuit in Istanbul on November 15, 2020.
OZAN KOSE / POOL / AFP

 

Lewis Hamilton secured a record-equalling seventh Formula One world title on Sunday after winning the Turkish Grand Prix and then warned pretenders to his crown “I’m only just getting started!”

After a momentous drive from sixth on the grid in wet and treacherous conditions, the Briton matched Michael Schumacher’s haul of drivers’ crowns with three races of the season remaining.

The 35-year-old sealed his latest title 12 years after his first with a typically measured masterclass, handling the slippy early conditions to claim his 94th career win.

It was widely declared as one of his finest triumphs and entirely appropriate on the day he drew alongside the German in the record books.

“That’s for all the kids out there that believe in the impossible,” said an emotional Hamilton on Mercedes’ team radio. “You can do it.”

 

Second placed Racing Point’s Sergio Perez (R), third placed Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel (2R) and Mercedes team principle Toto Wolff (L) pour sparkling wine over the race winner and world champion Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton (C) on the podium after the Turkish Formula One Grand Prix at the Intercity Istanbul Park circuit in Istanbul on November 15, 2020. OZAN KOSE / POOL / AFP

 

Later he claimed he still had the hunger for more titles and paid tribute to his team and fans after a season in which he led his sport in supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

“I feel like I’m only just getting started. Physically, I’m in great shape. And mentally this year has been really hard for millions of people and it’s no different for us athletes,” he said.

“This has been a challenge that I didn’t know how to get through, but with the help of Team LH I managed to get through.”

Hamilton, who sealed his first title in 2008, added to his unprecedented roster of records — most wins with 94, most pole positions (97), most podium finishes (163) and most consecutive points finishes (47).

He added: “We dreamed of this when I was young.

“I remember watching Michael win those world championships. To get one or two or even three is so hard.

“Seven is unimaginable. There is no end to what we can do together, me and this team.”

– Blew away rivals –

He lapped his team-mate and only remaining title rival Valtteri Bottas, who finished 14th after a desultory outing, to claim his 10th victory in 14 races of a season delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Mercedes’ British driver Lewis Hamilton reacts as he gets out of his car after winning the Turkish Formula One Grand Prix at the Intercity Istanbul Park circuit in Istanbul on November 15, 2020. Lewis Hamilton won the race to seal his 7th World Championship. Clive Mason / POOL / AFP

 

Hamilton came home over half a minute clear of Racing Point’s Sergio Perez. Both chose to make only one pit-stop and spent most of the race on a single set of intermediate tyres as their rivals pitted several times to cope with the slippery conditions.

Hamilton’s old rival, four-time former champion Sebastian Vettel, finished third ahead of his Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz of McLaren and, after a wild and impulsive afternoon, Max Verstappen in the leading Red Bull.

Alex Albon came home seventh in the second Red Bull ahead of Lando Norris in the second McLaren, Lance Stroll, who had started from his maiden pole position for Racing Point, and Daniel Ricciardo of Renault.

This latest triumph gave Hamilton an unassailable lead over 31-year-old Bottas, with two races in Bahrain and the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to come.

Vettel, who grabbed a podium finish on the final lap, was the first man to congratulate Hamilton in the pits, leaning into the Englishman’s cockpit to tell him he had made history.

Bottas said: “He deserves it fully – he is the best of all of us this year and he really deserves it so it’s great for him.

“So I will have to try to beat him next year.”

Tributes flooded in from his fellow drivers and motorsport’s president Jean Todt, and from beyond the F1 family.

“Game recognises game. From all of the Barça family, congratulations @LewisHamilton on your 7th @F1 World Championship!” tweeted La Liga giants Barcelona.

Kenya’s world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge added his congratulations, telling Hamilton: “Longevity is equal to experience, this is what inspires the world!”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said that the team’s success had been even more significant coming in a time of the global coronavirus health emergency.

“This year has been very, very special, in difficult circumstances for everyone around the world.

“I hope that we’ve entertained and that’s why coming on top after such a year in such a tough race, it’s exceptional.”

AFP

Nigeria’s Joe Aribo Nets Brace As Rangers Hit Hamilton For Eight

Aribo joined the Ibrox Stadium side last summer from Charlton Athletic. Photo: [email protected] Football Club.

 

Rangers restored their commanding nine-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership with an 8-0 humbling of Hamilton on Sunday as Celtic bounced back to form with a 4-1 win at Motherwell.

Steven Gerrard’s men have played two more matches than their Glasgow rivals but showed why they are now the bookmakers’ favourites to end Celtic’s record-equalling run of nine straight league titles.

Hamilton shocked the hosts on their last visit to Ibrox in March but Rangers are a transformed side since Scottish football’s return in August, unbeaten in 20 games in all competitions this season.

Joe Aribo, Kemar Roofe and James Tavernier all scored twice, while Scott Arfield and Brandon Barker were also on target against the rock-bottom Accies.

Gerrard hailed his rampant team, who scored eight goals in the top flight for the first time since 1981.

“It has been coming, we have threatened to do that,” he said. “But the pleasing thing today was that we were very clinical.”

But he remained cautious despite the thumping win.

“Look, we are not at the stage yet where we can play with ego in any game or at any stage. We are trying to become a winning team, a successful team. We are in no position to disrespect any opponent or any team.”

– Celtic struggles –
In stark contrast to Rangers’ fine European form, Celtic suffered a humiliating 4-1 home defeat to Sparta Prague on Thursday.

Mohamed Elyounoussi faced a backlash from ex-Celtic players for being seen on his mobile phone after being substituted in midweek, but responded with a hat-trick at Fir Park to ease the pressure on manager Neil Lennon.

“I thought we were really well motivated, we looked far more like ourselves,” said Lennon. “The players responded brilliantly, it’s a fantastic response and win.

“They know they can play a lot better than they’ve showed. There was better body language about us today, better hunger. That’s what we are looking for, that’s a really good barometer for us now.”

Elyounoussi settled any nerves among the visitors early on as he pounced after Albian Ajeti’s strike came back off the post.

Tom Rogic then teed up the on-loan Southampton winger for his second from close range.

Celtic’s defence has been the source of most of Lennon’s problems in recent weeks and their frailty from set-pieces was again exposed when Declan Gallagher’s header halved Motherwell’s deficit 18 minutes from time.

However, Elyounoussi quickly responded with a towering header of his own at the back post to restore Celtic’s two-goal cushion.

“That was a big misunderstanding, I let my feet do the talking,” said Elyounoussi on the controversy over the phone.

“It was a good day. We got goals, we showed character, responded from Thursday’s game and got the points.”

France under-21 stars Odsonne Edouard and Olivier Ntcham have also failed to match their standards of previous seasons so far this campaign.

But they came off the bench to combine for Celtic’s fourth as Edouard teed up Ntcham to side-foot into the bottom corner.

AFP

Majestic Hamilton Wins In Belgium To Close In On Schumacher Record

hamilton
Winner Mercedes’ British driver Lewis Hamilton is applauded as he arrives on the podium after the Belgian Formula One Grand Prix at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Spa on August 30, 2020. Lars Baron / POOL / AFP

 

Lewis Hamilton stretched his lead in the drivers’ world championship and closed to within two wins of Michael Schumacher’s Formula One record of 91 on Sunday with a majestic, if ultimately tense, Belgian Grand Prix victory.

The series leader and six-time champion registered his 89th career win with another flawless drive to take his fourth Belgian triumph, finishing 8.448 seconds clear of his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

It was Hamilton’s fifth win in seven races this year and extended his record run of points-scoring races to 40.

Max Verstappen came third for Red Bull, seven seconds further adrift, to claim his sixth podium finish in succession.

Hamilton, who had to nurse his car home on worn tyres, has 157 points in the title race, 47 clear of Verstappen. The ‘black arrows’ lead the constructors’ championship with 264 points, well ahead of Red Bull on 158.

“It wasn’t the easiest of races,” said Hamilton. “It was a bit of a struggle, but nonetheless I think it was ok in the end.”

At the British Grand Prix at the start of August, Hamilton had clung on to win after one of his tyres disintegrated.

“I was concerned that we’d have a scenario like Silverstone, but the tyre seemed to have quite a bit of rubber left on it at the finish.”

Bottas admitted he could not match his team-mate’s pace.

“The start was a good opportunity, but Lewis played it really well and I just couldn’t catch him. In the same car, with Lewis driving a flawless race, it was really difficult.”

Verstappen said he had a dull afternoon.

“It was pretty boring, not very interesting and not much to do,” he said. “I ran out of tyre at the end so I was just stretching it out and saving the tyres.”

Daniel Ricciardo produced the fastest lap on his final lap as he claimed fourth ahead of his Renault team-mate Esteban Ocon, and Alex Albon, in the second Red Bull.

Lando Norris was seventh in the sole McLaren.

Pierre Gasly finished eighth for Alpha Tauri ahead of the Racing Points of Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez. On a troubled weekend, last year’s winner Charles Leclerc was 14th, one place behind outgoing Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel.

– Drama and ceremony –

On a cool dry day in the Ardennes, the race was preceded by drama and ceremony with Carlos Sainz’s McLaren suffering an exhaust failure that ruled him out and then a minute’s silence, in memory of French F2 racer Anthoine Hubert, and the now-familiar drivers’ anti-racism demonstration before the national anthem.

Hamilton made a smooth start from his record 93rd pole position ahead of Bottas while Verstappen fought to defend the third position against Ricciardo.

Bottas chased Hamilton in vain, the champion controlling his advantage with imperious speed in the early laps as they pulled clear of the rest.

“We have one push now?” asked Bottas.

“Yes, but we agreed not to use it against each other,” replied Mercedes.

“I’ve never heard of that,” replied the clearly miffed Finn, who had said on Saturday that he would attack his team-mate to keep alive his own title bid.

The safety car came out on lap 11 after a collision involving Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi and George Russell of Williams. The Italian spun into the barriers in front of the Briton whose car was hit by an errant rear wheel as he took evasive action.

The damaged cars left debris strewn across the circuit, but the drivers walked away unhurt.

“I’m ok,” said Russell on team radio. “Nowhere I could go, guys.”

The leaders pitted immediately, Bottas only just returning ahead of Verstappen after a slow stop. Ferrari appeared unready when Leclerc pitted, another issue in a bleak weekend that saw their drivers bump wheels in a scrap for 12th.

After the re-start, Bottas closed to nine-tenths briefly, on lap 17, but Hamilton raised his pace and was gone.

AFP

Hamilton Dominates Japan Practice After Crash Scare

Mercedes’ British driver Lewis Hamilton Photo: ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP

 

Lewis Hamilton delivered a psychological blow to Sebastian Vettel’s fading Formula One title hopes as the Briton dominated Friday’s free practice for the Japanese Grand Prix.

But the reigning world champion, who leads his Ferrari rival by 50 points with five races left this season, survived a close shave in the morning session at Suzuka when he deftly avoided smashing his Mercedes into Pierre Gasly’s Toro Rosso.

Hamilton went on to clock a fastest time of one minute, 28.691 seconds before the Briton produced a sizzling lap of 1:28.217 to top the timesheets in the afternoon, almost half-a-second quicker than team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

“This track is awesome,” whooped Hamilton over team radio. “I’m having the best day!”

Vettel was third fastest, more than 0.8 seconds off the pace, as he prepares for what is looking increasingly like a must-win race for the German.

Hamilton’s only scare came in a bizarre incident early on when he was forced to react sharply to avoid smashing into the back of Gasly’s dawdling car on entry to the chicane.

He waved angrily at the Frenchman after veering off the road and later needed to pit to fix technical gremlins after a sensor alarm went off on his car’s dashboard.

However, neither issue made much difference to Hamilton’s crushing dominance and the pace shown by Mercedes suggests they will be favourites to lock up the front row in Saturday’s qualifying, as they did in Russia last week.

Hamilton controversially took his eighth chequered flag of the season at Sochi after Mercedes ordered Bottas to let him through to close in on a fifth Formula One crown.

Twist the knife

On Friday’s showing, he will fancy his chances of twisting the knife into Vettel, who has seen Hamilton win five of the last six races.

But Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff attempted to play down the significance of the gap to Ferrari.

“I think probably the lap time flatters us a little bit,” he said. “But we’ll see how it is in qualifying tomorrow.”

Vettel, who also had a near-miss with Gasly as he went only fifth fastest in the morning, could be thrown a lifeline by the weather.

An approaching typhoon could hit Suzuka on Saturday, but it would still be difficult to back against the Silver Arrows.

“It has been a clean Friday,” insisted Vettel, despite complaining of blistering tyres.

“No interruptions, no issue with the car or anything, so now we have to try to obviously squeeze out everything that is left in the car for tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen went fourth fastest in the afternoon, more than a second off Hamilton’s time with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen fifth.

Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull slotted in behind Raikkonen on the timesheets to complete a predictable top six.

Esteban Ocon’s Force India was seventh fastest in both sessions, followed by the Haas of Frenchman Romain Grosjean. Marcus Ericsson moved his Sauber up one spot to ninth with Brendon Hartley squeezing into the top 10 for Toro Rosso in the afternoon.

AFP

Hamilton Wins Sixth Canadian Grand Prix

Hamilton Wins Sixth Canadian Grand PrixLewis Hamilton has won the Canadian Grand Prix for the sixth time and the third year in a row, to cut Sebastian Vettel’s overall lead to 12 points and put Formula One champions Mercedes back on top of the podium.

The Briton led from start to finish on Sunday, after qualifying on pole at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for the sixth time, to chalk up his 56th career Grand Prix victory and third of the season.

Hamilton’s Finnish team mate Valtteri Bottas sealed a Mercedes one-two, finishing 19.7 seconds behind Hamilton, with Australian Daniel Ricciardo third for Red Bull for the third race in a row.

Ferrari’s Vettel, winner of three of the previous six races, finished fourth after losing places at the start and then dropping further down the field when he had to pit to replace a damaged front wing.

Top ten finishers:

  1. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 1:33:05.153
  2. Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Mercedes +00:19.783
  3. Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Red Bull – TAG Heuer 00:35.297
  4. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Ferrari 00:35.907
  5. Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India – Mercedes 00:40.476
  6. Esteban Ocon (France) Force India – Mercedes 00:40.716
  7. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari 00:58.632
  8. Nico Huelkenberg (Germany) Renault 01:00.374
  9. Lance Stroll (Canada) Williams-Mercedes 1 lap
  10. Romain Grosjean (France) Haas – Ferrari 1 lap

Reuters

Rosberg Not Backing Down On Formula 1 Title

rosbergNico Rosberg has said that he has not given up hope of beating Lewis Hamilton to the Formula 1 title.

Despite trailing his teammate by 48 points with five races left this season, Rosberg insisted that he is not backing down from the challenge.

Although he admits the gap between the pair is “quite big”, Rosberg believes he can still gain ground on his rival, starting with this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix.

Hamilton led Rosberg home in Russia last year to clinch the 2014 ‘Constructors’ title for Mercedes.

Hamilton Confirmed Italian Grand Prix Champion

hamiltonFormula One Champion, Lewis Hamilton’s victory in the Italian Grand Prix has been confirmed after stewards took no action, following an investigation into tyre pressure.

The Mercedes cars of Hamilton and Nico Rosberg both showed pressure in one tyre below the minimum permitted level when tested on the grid before the race.

However, an FIA statement said the tyres were cooler than other cars because the warming blankets had been disconnected.

It also said stewards were satisfied, as Mercedes had followed the correct procedure with tyre manufacturer, Pirelli.

According to the result of the race, Hamilton won by 25 seconds ahead of Sebastian Vettel.