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Motor racing-Hamilton says Monza pole farce marks a dangerous trend

The fastest track on the calendar produced one of the slowest ever final shootouts for pole position ahead of Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.

Nine drivers did all they could to avoid taking the lead, all eager to get a tow from someone else at a track where the aerodynamic pull from a car in front can be significant, until most ran out of time.

The pole was decided on the first flying laps, clocked before red flags came out as Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen crashed at Parabolica.

When the session resumed, drivers left it late to come out and then drove too slowly to get round to start one final flying lap.

“Everyone going out as late as we just did there, for example, with two minutes to go, it’s going to continue to be an issue in places where you particularly need a tow,” said Hamilton.

“It won’t be until someone crashes that they’ll change it, most likely.

“The drag is a big issue here, the tow is a key to getting a good lap. Everyone was slowing right down and also blocking the way, so you couldn’t really get through. It was pretty dangerous,” added the Mercedes driver.

“I nearly crashed a couple of times trying to stay out of the way of the guys that were braking ahead of me and then people trying to come past me.”

Hamilton will start on the front row, next to Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff agreed the situation was also an unintented consequence of aerodynamic changes introduced this season that have made it easier for drivers to follow each other and overtake.

“I think what we saw today, the consequence of all cars missing the last lap, is just a shame for Formula One and doesn’t do any of the teams and drivers any good,” said the Austrian.

Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, who qualified fifth, said Leclerc had been lucky, but also saw the funny side of the situation.

“The reality is no-one wanted to be first,” he said. “You just give everyone else a tow and not yourself. You bleed a couple of tenths… it’s more knowing that you’re helping everyone else.

“I think we should probably just get a talking to and make sure it doesn’t happen again because we all miss out and so do the fans. The real winners were the Leclerc fans — they certainly won.” (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)

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Chinese GP: Hamilton storms to race victory


Lewis Hamilton has taken the lead in the world championship for the first time in 2019 as he crossed the line in first place at the Chinese Grand Prix.

The Briton was unchallenged on his way to his 75th career win, as he beat teammate Valtteri Bottas to the chequered flag at the Shanghai International Circuit.

Hamilton got the jump on Bottas off the line, and took the lead into the first corner, making it three from three races in 2019 that the pole sitter hasn’t headed the pack into the opening corner of the Grand Prix.

Charles Leclerc also got past his teammate Sebastian Vettel at Turn 1, but couldn’t keep up with the Mercedes’ who started to pull away.

There was a brief virtual safety car period after Daniel Kvyat came together with the two McLarens on the exit of Turn 6. Daniil Kvyat received a drive-through penalty for the incident, whie McLaren failed to score any points.

On the 11th lap, Leclerc let Vettel past to allow the German to go in chase of Bottas in front. However, Vettel failed to pull away quickly and while he towed Leclerc along, Max Verstappen closed in in the Red Bull.

The Dutchman then triggered the pit stops, as he boxed for medium tyres. Vettel responded on the next lap, coming out just in front of the 21-year-old. Verstappen attempted an overtake at the Turn 14 hairpin, but failed to make the move stick, getting pushed out onto the grass by Vettel.

When Leclerc pitted a number of laps later, he emerged far behind Verstappen in fifth place, where he would remain for the rest of the race, even after the second round of pit stops.

Out in front, Mercedes was unchallenged and decided to stack their cars when they made their second pit stops, after Vettel and Verstappen.

Pierre Gasly drove a lonely race but picked up his best result at Red Bull, crossing the line in sixth place. However, he pitted in the last couple of laps and managed to pick up the extra point for the fastest lap.

Daniel Ricciardo also had a quiet race for Renault but managed to pick up his first points of the year, finishing in seventh place. He headed Sergio Perez and Kimi Raikkonen who were eighth and ninth respectively.

After starting from the pitlane, Albon drove a one-stop strategy to pick up the final point on offer, while also winning the Driver of the Day vote.

It was a tough day for Haas, who failed to pick up points despite having both of its cars inside the top ten for the start of the Grand Prix.

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It doesn´t feel real – Hamilton celebrates fourth drivers´ championship

Lewis Hamilton described a surreal feeling after winning the Formula One drivers’ championship for the fourth time despite finishing ninth in the Mexico Grand Prix.

Hamilton and Ferrari title rival Sebastian Vettel clashed during the opening lap, with the German driver – who had started on pole – emerging in a better position than the table leader.

But Vettel could not claw his way back to take the victory he required to keep his fight alive as Hamilton cruised to the title, making him the outright most successful British driver of all time.

“Wow,” Hamilton said as he celebrated with his crew. “I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who came out to support us. I hope we gave them a good race today. Mexican fans are the best around the world.

“I gave everything I could. I had a good start. I don’t know what happened at turn three – I gave plenty of room – but I tried really hard to come back.

“I just want to say a big thank you to my family, to the team, I’m so proud to be part of it.

“It doesn’t feel real. It’s not the kind of race I want – being 40 seconds behind or something – but I never gave up and kept going right until the end.”

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Lewis Hamilton wants title with Mexico win

Lewis Hamilton says he has no intention of playing it safe with a mathematical game in the Mexican grand prix. Even if his championship rival Sebastian Vettel wins on Sunday, Mercedes’ Hamilton only needs a fifth place finish to guarantee his fourth career title.

But Hamilton said in Mexico: “I want to win. I have no desire to come here, finish fifth and watch someone else stand on the podium.” Mercedes and even Hamilton’s own teammate Valtteri Bottas say the British driver has been untouchable in 2017, particularly since the summer break.

Team boss Toto Wolff admits Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement at the end of last year was ultimately a good thing. “Looking back at the season and the structure we now have with Lewis and Valtteri, which has benefitted our overall team’s performance and the drivers’ performance, then yes,” he confirmed.

Nonetheless, team chairman Niki Lauda said Mercedes needs to do a better job in giving Bottas a car he can more easily drive next year. “It is our job to put a car on the track that makes Bottas’ life easier,” he said. (GMM)

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Hamilton wins in Austin, Mercedes crowned constructor’s champions

 Lewis Hamilton has won his sixth United States Grand Prix and his fifth at the Circuit of the Americas. The Briton didn’t wrap up the driver’s standings as title rival Sebastian Vettel finished the race in second place, which means the battle continues onto Mexico next weekend.

Vettel led the first five laps of the race after he got the better jump at the start. He overtook pole-sitter Hamilton into Turn 1 and stayed ahead for a handful of laps before the 32-year-old managed to close in and overtake at Turn 12.

Kimi Raikkonen claimed third position despite being overtaken by Max Verstappen on the final lap. However, it was deemed that the Dutchman had cut the corner making the move, and he received a 5-second time penalty after the chequered flag which demoted him to fourth. Valtteri Bottas came home in fifth.

With a first and fifth finish, Mercedes are officially the 2017 constructor’s champions. It’s the fourth consecutive year the Silver Arrows have won the championship, as they now hold an unreachable 143 points over Ferrari.

“I’m so happy,” said boss Toto Wolff. “The gang in Brackley and Brixworth have done a fantastic job, 24/7 and so much sacrifice. I’m so happy. It’s just a new reality. We had a few good years with a power unit advantage and now everybody has closed up. You can see that Red Bull is very much there at the end. This is the new reality and how it will go for the rest and probably next season.”

Esteban Ocon was sixth and now holds the record for the most consecutive finishes from his debut appearance, which was previously held by Max Chilton. Carlos Sainz produced a stunning drive on his debut, including a fantastic overtake on Sergio Perez around the Turn 17 and 18 complex.

Perez himself finished in eighth place ahead of Felipe Massa. The Brazilian worked a two-stop strategy well and fitted a set of ultra softs on lap 30, which allowed him to overtake drivers ahead. On his return to F1, Daniil Kvyat took the final points paying position.

With Red Bull losing out on a podium finish in Verstappen’s case, his teammate Daniel Ricciardo failed to finish the race altogether. Ricciardo pulled to the side of the track on lap 16 of the Grand Prix with an engine problem.

On the same lap that Ricciardo retired, Vettel came into the pitlane for his first stop of the day. He switched to the soft compound, and closed in on Hamilton’s gap. Hamilton decided to pit three laps after Vettel and came out only marginally ahead, despite previously holding a 5-second advantage.

After both Mercedes’ and Ferrari’s made their pitstops, Verstappen was leading as he started the race on the super soft tyre. On lap 23, Hamilton closed up on the back of the Dutchman and got by, freeing himself from the danger of being held up.

Verstappen then made a pitstop for the soft compound, while Fernando Alonso rounded the circuit at a slow pace, making his way back to the garage to retire for the ninth time this season.

The two Force India’s found themselves running in a short space of track once again, and Perez requested for him to be let by, as Sainz began to close in. However, Force India refused and soon Perez was behind the Spaniard.

On lap 38, Verstappen pitted for a set of super soft tyres, and Vettel followed suit on the very next lap. On much fresher tyres, the pair closed up to Bottas and Raikkonen ahead. They made easy work of Bottas, who was struggling massively on his worn soft tyres.

Raikkonen then let Vettel by for P2, and soon found himself under attack in the dying stages of the race. Verstappen’s last lap overtake was deemed to be illegal and Raikkonen took the final step on the podium.


Fergal Walsh

22 October 2017 – Grand Prix of the United States – Race
Driver Team Difference #
1. GB Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1h33 56
2. DE Sebastian Vettel Ferrari + 10.143 56
3. FI Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari + 15.779 56
4. NL Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing + 16.768 56
5. FI Valtteri Bottas Mercedes + 34.967 56
6. FR Esteban Ocon Force India + 90.980 56
7. ES Carlos Sainz jr Renault + 92.944 56
8. MX Sergio Perez Force India 55
9. BR Felipe Massa Williams 55
10. RU Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 55
11. CA Lance Stroll Williams 55
12. BE Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 55
13. NZ Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 55
14. FR Romain Grosjean Haas F1 55
15. SE Marcus Ericsson Sauber 55
16. DK Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 55
ES Carlos Sainz jr Toro Rosso 0
GB Jolyon Palmer Renault 0
Did not finish
17. ES Fernando Alonso McLaren 24
18. AU Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 14
19. DE Pascal Wehrlein Sauber 5
20. DE Nico Hülkenberg Renault 3
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Lewis Hamilton has won the Japanese Grand Prix, taking his 61st career victory.

The Briton now holds a 59 point lead in the championship after his title rival Sebastian Vettel suffered from a spark plug before the race. Ferrari thought they had fixed it before the lights went out, however, the German was forced to peel into the pits early on and retire his car.

Following on from his win last weekend in Malaysia, Max Verstappen took home another podium, crossing the line in second place. The Dutchman finished just over three seconds behind Hamilton. Verstappen’s teammate Daniel Ricciardo took the final spot on the podium.

At the end of the race, Hamilton reported that he was suffering from vibrations, which allowed Verstappen to close right up onto the rear wing of the Mercedes. However, Hamilton hung on, aided by Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso who were lapped while scrapping for the final championship point.

Valtteri Bottas, who started the race from sixth, came home in fourth place behind his teammate and the two Red Bulls. Bottas’ compatriot Kimi Raikkonen, who started down in tenth position, recovered to finish in fifth, 28 seconds behind Bottas.

The two Force India’s followed in sixth and seventh. Esteban Ocon, who was running in third place for the first ten laps, headed home Sergio Perez. The pair were separated by a very small margin, but due to a number of on-track collisions earlier this year, the team forbid them for racing.

Haas claimed its second double points finish of the season, with Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean crossing the line in eighth and ninth respectively. Massa kept Alonso behind for tenth place, with the Spaniard now under investigation for ignoring blue flags.

Hamilton managed to keep his lead from the start, with Verstappen getting by Ricciardo for third place. Carlos Sainz’s last race for Toro Rosso ended in disaster after he spun off on the first lap, making contact with the barriers. It saw the first of three virtual safety car deployments.

Vettel soon followed the Spaniard in retirement, as his engine issue saw him drop down the field. Speaking to media after returning to the garage, he said: “Of course it hurts, we’re all disappointed, but the best [thing to do] is to get back, get some rest, and go flat out for the next four races and see what happens.”

The third retirement of the day came on lap 8 when a mistake from Marcus Ericsson saw him pitch his Sauber into the barrier at Degner 2. With the virtual safety car back out again, the pack was neutralised, but Ricciardo wasn’t long getting by Ocon for third place on lap 10.

Raikkonen had an eventful day, as the Finn overtook a number of cars to make his way back up the field. On the first lap, he ran wide at the Spoon curve, dropping a number of positions. By lap 14, he was up into P7 after overtaking former teammate Massa.

While he was making moves, Verstappen began to close in on Hamilton, who started to get held up after he made his pitstop. Hamilton came out behind Bottas, who started the race on the soft compound. With Bottas going longer into the race, Hamilton’s lap times began to get comprised as he drove in the dirty air of his teammate

Bottas let Hamilton by on lap 28, before he entered the pitlane to change tyres. He came back out in fourth place and went in hunt of Ricciardo. On the last lap, he was right on the tail of the Australian, but couldn’t find a way past.

The final few laps saw worry for Mercedes as Verstappen closed up onto Hamilton, but as the Silver Arrow put Massa and Alonso a lap down, Verstappen couldn’t get by so smoothly and lost time to take a stab at overtaking Hamilton.

There were two more retirements in the final ten laps. Nico Hulkenberg’s rear wing remained open with the DRS, and the German was forced back into the garage. Meanwhile, a very strange tyre failure for Lance Stroll put him out of the race with just five laps left to run.

1. GB Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1h31 53
2. NL Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing + 1.211 53
3. AU Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing + 9.679 53
4. FI Valtteri Bottas Mercedes + 10.580 53
5. FI Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari + 32.622 53
6. FR Esteban Ocon Force India + 67.788 53
7. MX Sergio Perez Force India + 71.424 53
8. DK Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 + 88.953 53
9. FR Romain Grosjean Haas F1 + 89.883 53
10. BR Felipe Massa Williams 52
11. ES Fernando Alonso McLaren 52
12. GB Jolyon Palmer Renault 52
13. FR Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 52
14. BE Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 52
15. DE Pascal Wehrlein Sauber 51
Did not finish
16. CA Lance Stroll Williams 45
17. DE Nico Hülkenberg Renault 40
18. SE Marcus Ericsson Sauber 7
19. DE Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 4
20. ES Carlos Sainz jr Toro Rosso 0

(Fergal Walsh)

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Lewis Hamilton: “I’ve been struggling with the car today“

Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver Lewis Hamilton says he struggled with the set-up of the W08 during both practice sessions today, and the team will be investigating overnight why that was, to hopefully resolve the issue ahead of tomorrow’s final practice session.

“It’s been a very difficult day. I’ve been struggling with the car today, so we have to review and try to understand where we have gone wrong with the balance.

“We’re hoping that we’re able to find our bearings overnight and regroup for tomorrow.”

Although free practice 1 was hampered by rain, the second practice session was dry, but Mercedes were some way off the pace of Scuderia Ferrari, and also fell behind Red Bull Racing. They were even slower than McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team driver Fernando Alonso in both sessions, a result nobody would have been expecting!

Team-mate Valtteri Bottas also had issues, with both drivers lucky to save big off track moments as they struggled to find any grip at the Sepang International Circuit. Mercedes had expected to perform more strongly in Malaysia, but were 1.4 seconds off the fastest time set by Sebastian Vettel, and that will have left a lot of heads scratching on the Silver Arrows pit wall.

Despite the less than enthusiastic performance however, Hamilton thanked the fans for keeping him going, throughout the day, with their unbreakable support.

“I had a great group of people who were in front of my garage today all day long, sending really positive energy. So a big thank you to everyone there and I look forward to seeing you tomorrow!”

(Rachel Hack)