Formula One: Hamilton romps to pole in Japan

Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates taking pole position in the qualifying session of the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. (AFP)
Updated 07 October 2017
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Formula One: Hamilton romps to pole in Japan

SUZUKA, Japan: Lewis Hamilton struck a huge psychological blow in the Formula One title race Saturday with a sizzling qualifying drive to take pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix.
The Briton, who leads Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by 34 points with five races left, steered his Mercedes to a track record of one minute, 27.319 seconds with Valtteri Bottas second fastest.
However, Vettel will join Hamilton on the front row after Bottas incurred a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change on Friday.
“The car is crazy here,” said Hamilton after his 71st career pole, and first at Suzuka.
“Every lap was fantastic. I’m running out of opportunities to get this pole so I made sure I made it stick today.”
A three-time race winner in Japan, Hamilton’s dominant qualifying performance dented Vettel’s fading title hopes after the German set the early pace in Friday’s rain-hit practice.
“I tried everything on that last lap as I knew I had to take a bit more risks,” said the German.
“I knew that we’d be on front row because of Valtteri’s penalty so I’m pretty happy.”
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was fourth fastest, ahead of team mate Max Verstappen, who won in Malaysia last week.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen qualified sixth quickest, but will also be demoted five places after switching his gearbox following a shunt in Saturday’s practice.


Virgil van Dijk sets sights on an awesome foursome of trophies for Liverpool

Updated 20 September 2018
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Virgil van Dijk sets sights on an awesome foursome of trophies for Liverpool

LIVERPOOL: Virgil van Dijk wants to create history with Liverpool this season as he set his sights on an unprecedented quadruple of trophies.
The Anfield outfit are full of confidence after recording six successive wins at the start of a season for the first time since 1961.
Having reached the Champions League final in the previous campaign, they opened up this one with a thrilling 3-2 victory over Paris Saint-Germain thanks to an injury-time strike from Roberto Firmino after the French champions had pulled back a two-goal deficit.
While pundits have suggested Liverpool should prioritize the Premier League, van Dijk said they have the belief to do even better.
“Everyone is excited, feeling good, wanted to be part of this,” he said. “We know the season is very long, four competitions to play and we want to win everything. That’s basically our mindset. You need to have ambitions.
“With the size of this club, the people around here and with the history, we want to try to win everything. It’s going to be hard, we know it’s something very difficult to do, but we are going to try. That’s what we are here for.
“I’ve enjoyed every bit since I arrived here and hope to keep going. I want to win things, create memories here and write history as well with all of these boys.”
The Dutch defender also feels rivals will see Liverpool as contenders for the big prizes having overcome Neymar and Co.
“We were not in the [Champions League] final last season for no reason,” he added. “I think we should have already got the respect, but this season is new.
“Everyone starts over and we need to show it in every game. We need to keep going, keep improving, but also enjoy it. It’s the highest stage.
“If you are going to be on the pitch and you don’t believe it [that you can beat teams like this] then you need to stay home. You need to believe in your team. I have the belief. I’m enjoying it. You want to play in these games, you want to play these clubs. I think it’s a great time to be a Liverpool player.
“If you look at the team, the whole squad, players who are not even in there and have so much potential, so much quality, it says a lot about our team.”