Hamilton and Vettel already focused on next year’s Formula One title battle

Updated 27 November 2017
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Hamilton and Vettel already focused on next year’s Formula One title battle

ABU DHABI: Championship rivals Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel are already looking forward to fighting each other for a fifth Formula One title next year.
With Hamilton wrapping up this year’s title two races ago, the pressure was off in yesterday’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which was won by Valtteri Bottas.
Both Vettel and Hamilton are projecting to 2018, where the four-time champions get back to the serious business of trying to catch Argentine great Juan Manuel Fangio on five titles.
“Certainly we will never match him in how successful he was in such a short space of time,” Vettel said on Thursday at a news conference. “Back then racing was different. The cars were not that reliable and he still managed to be successful. (He was) the best we’ve ever had in terms of putting it all together and skill.”
Only Michael Schumacher with seven titles has won more than Fangio, who drove in F1 from 1950 to 58.
“It was the most dangerous period of time in motorsport. I feel honored to be so close to such a great sporting icon,” Hamilton said of Fangio. “He should be celebrated more for his success. He’s not mentioned a huge amount. He’s kind of the godfather of the sport for the drivers.”
Some may come to revere Hamilton like that in time.
He has won 62 races — second only to Schumacher’s 91 — and holds the record for pole positions with 72. The 32-year-old British driver has won three of the past four titles — losing to Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in 2016 — and was at the peak of his powers this season.
After trailing Vettel at the halfway point, he pulled away after the summer break and leads the German driver by 43 points.
Hamilton is arguably the fiercest competitor around and is already thinking about how Vettel plans to turn the tables.
“Whatever weakness Sebastian had, he’ll work on those over the winter. No one’s perfect. Even I have things to work on,” Hamilton said, without a trace of irony. “He’s going to raise the bar next year and I’ll have to as well, otherwise things won’t be the same.
“Ferrari had a very, very good season. Half the season they were in the lead and that wasn’t down to luck,” Hamilton added. “Red Bull is also going to be (competing for the title) next year.”
Considering how poor Ferrari was in 2016, this year can still be viewed as a success with Vettel winning five races compared with none last year.
Vettel joked that winning the title in 2018 will be “a walk in the park” if Ferrari improves by the same amount, then took a more serious view of the situation.
“That final step is always the hardest. But the team is ready and fired up,” said Vettel, who won four titles with Red Bull from 2010 to 13. “We made the biggest step of all. We lost out as the season progressed. In the end we weren’t good enough to take it to the last race, but there’s so much potential still.”
He accepted that he ultimately fell short because “Lewis made less mistakes” than he did.
Poised to regain the championship lead, he crashed out of the Singapore GP from pole position back in September — turning the tide in Hamilton’s favor. Reliability issues plagued Ferrari at the next two races. He started last and finished fourth at the Malaysian GP and then qualified third before retiring from the Japanese GP.
In June, the rivals were embroiled in their most heated clash at the Azerbaijan GP in Baku.
Vettel drove alongside Hamilton’s Mercedes as they waited behind the safety car for the restart, and was adjudged to have deliberately nudged the side of his car. Tempers frayed and barbs were exchanged. Vettel initially denied it was deliberate but subsequently apologized for dangerous driving. That incident genuinely threatened to spoil their healthy rivalry, but they joke about it now.
Asked on Thursday what their highlight of the season was, both drivers — sitting next to each other — laughed easily when Baku was suggested.
Referring to the upcoming end-of-season F1 awards, Vettel put himself forward for three.
“I should get (overtaking) move of the year, personality of the year, and fair play ... maybe not.”
— AP


Manchester United inflict more semifinal misery on sorry Spurs

Updated 9 min 46 sec ago
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Manchester United inflict more semifinal misery on sorry Spurs

  • Manchester United come from behind to make FA Cup final.
  • Mauricio Pochettino yet to win a trophy as manager.

A third cup final with Manchester United for Jose Mourinho. More FA Cup semifinal misery for Tottenham.
While Mauricio Pochettino wins admiration for his style of football, the manager has yet to actually win a trophy in management.
A 2-1 collapse to United at Wembley Stadium on Saturday left Tottenham reeling from an eighth successive loss in the FA Cup semifinals.
Pochettino is responsible for two of the setbacks, having also fallen short against Chelsea last season.
At the stadium where Tottenham have been playing their home matches this season, Dele Alli's goal gave the 1991 FA Cup winners hope of turning around their miserable record in world football's oldest knockout competition.
But Alexis Sanchez leveled in the 24th minute and Ander Herrera struck the winner in the second half. It ensured Mourinho, who won the League Cup and Europa League in his first season at United, has a chance to also end this campaign with silverware against Chelsea or Southampton in the FA Cup final.
"We're getting used to being in finals," Herrera said. "This club is all about titles and finals."
While Mourinho has fallen short in the English Premier League behind newly crowned champion Manchester City, United are second and on course for their highest finish since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.
Tottenham would settle with holding onto fourth place to secure a third season in a row in the Champions League.
Liverpool missed a chance to considerably stretch its advantage over Tottenham in one of Saturday's two league games. Juergen Klopp's side threw away a two-goal lead to draw with last-place West Bromwich Albion 2-2 and move only three points ahead of Tottenham.
Chelsea, who plays Southampton in the other FA Cup semifinal on Sunday, are five points behind Tottenham with four games remaining.

POGBA TRANSFORMED
When United fell behind to Tottenham, Paul Pogba was culpable.
A high ball was launched forward by Tottenham, a lethargic Pogba didn't try to break sweat in an attempt to prevent it reaching Eriksen. It allowed the Dane to whip in a cross for Alli to slide onto at the far post and strike past David De Gea in 11th minute
Had Harry Kane made a connection at the far post with Son Heung-min's cross three minutes later, Tottenham might have extended their lead.
Instead, United were able to draw level. Pogba made amends for his earlier inertia by dispossessing Mousa Dembele and delivering a cross that Sanchez headed past static goalkeeper Michel Vorm.
Sanchez did the hard work to create the winner in the 62nd, holding off Kieran Trippier and rolling the ball into the penalty area where Jesse Lingard teed up Herrera to shoot past Vorm.