Sebastian Vettel wins Bahrain Grand Prix, Kimi Raikkonen’s car hits mechanic

Ferrari's German driver Sebastian Vettel celebrates on his car after winning the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Sakhir circuit in Manama on April 8, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 08 April 2018
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Sebastian Vettel wins Bahrain Grand Prix, Kimi Raikkonen’s car hits mechanic

  • Sebastian Vettel makes perfect start to F1 season with two wins from two
  • Raikkonen’s car hit a team mechanic. Ferrari said the mechanic was taken to the hospital for treatment
SAKHIR, Bahrain: Sebastian Vettel just held on to win a dramatic Bahrain Grand Prix from pole position on Sunday and extended his championship lead over Lewis Hamilton, who finished third behind teammate Valtteri Bottas despite starting from ninth.
Vettel was almost overtaken by Bottas on the last lap, but made a crucial blocking move and won by only 0.6 seconds.
Hamilton was gifted a podium spot after Ferrari botched Kimi Raikkonen’s second tire change. A rear wheel was not fitted properly and, in his haste to get back into the race, Raikkonen’s car hit a team mechanic. Ferrari said the mechanic was taken to the hospital for treatment. There was no immediate update on his condition or the nature of his injury.
Vettel made it two straight F1 wins after victory at the season-opening Australian GP two weeks ago, sealing his 49th career win on his 200th race start.
“A bit sad because one of our mechanics got injured,” Vettel said. “A mixed day overall.”
Red Bull had an awful race, with Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen retiring early on. In an ironic twist, Red Bull’s feeder team Toro Rosso had arguably the result of the day — with French driver Pierre Gasly driving superbly to finish a career-best fourth.
But it was determined and astute defending from Vettel, who drove just like a four-time F1 champion. He was under serious pressure from the faster car of Bottas, who was on better tires, but did not crack.
Vettel whooped with joy as he crossed the finish line, although his team’s celebrations were more low-key than usual following the mechanic’s hospitalization.
Raikkonen came in for his second tire change of the race after 36 of 57 laps of the 5.4-kilometer (3.3-mile) desert circuit, but the left rear tire was not secured properly. Raikkonen was given the green light to go but it was an unsafe release and, as he pulled away, he hit one of the mechanics.
Raikkonen’s car came to a halt a few meters later and he took off the steering wheel and dejectedly threw it into the cockpit. As he walked back through the team garage, the Finnish driver swiped away a water bottle in frustration.
Ferrari said it was “thinking about our man, waiting to know more after the treatment.”
It was a poor error from Ferrari, which was fined 5,000 euros ($6,140) for an unsafe pit release during practice on Friday.
As the sun set, tension rose on the grid as drivers prepared for their showdown under floodlights.
Vettel started on the front row with Raikkonen, and Bottas started third. Hamilton was ninth on the grid after incurring a five-place grid penalty for an unauthorized gearbox change.
A frantic start saw Vettel hold the lead but Raikkonen got passed in the first corner by Bottas.
Red Bull’s nightmare scenario made things easier for Hamilton, who no longer had two of the best drivers on the grid to contend with. But it was immensely frustrating for Verstappen. The Dutch driver had done brilliantly to jump from 15th on the grid, and fought with Hamilton on the inside heading into turn one. But he sustained too much damage after puncturing his left rear tire.
Moments later, there were heads on hands in the Red Bull garage as Ricciardo’s race was ended. He pulled over on the side of the track because of an electrical failure, prompting the safety car to come out. With the VSC on track, Verstappen managed to crawl back into the pits. He resumed the race but abandoned shortly after.


Esperance Sportive de Tunis told to forget Real Madrid and focus on Al-Ain in FIFA Club World Cup

Updated 12 December 2018
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Esperance Sportive de Tunis told to forget Real Madrid and focus on Al-Ain in FIFA Club World Cup

  • Tunisian giants face Al-Ain in their quarterfinal
  • In Japan, Esperance were beaten by Asian champions Al-Sadd, a defeat that saw them miss out on the chance of playing Barcelona

ABU DHABI: Esperance Sportive de Tunis have been told they have to learn from their mistakes of 2011 or forget about a dream date with Real Madrid. 

The Tunisian giants face Al-Ain in their quarterfinal with their skipper Khalil Chemmam reminding them not to fall foul of overconfidence as they did when they last played in the FIFA Club World Cup seven years ago. In Japan, Esperance were beaten by Asian champions Al-Sadd, a defeat that saw them miss out on the chance of playing Barcelona in the semifinals.

With a last-four clash against Real Madrid on offer to the winners of Saturday’s match, Chemmam is only too aware of the possibility of history repeating itself. 

“We should concentrate on our quarterfinal first, take each game as it comes, and try not to make the same mistakes we made in 2011,” the Tunisia international said. 

“We have to focus on our initial opponents and do our research beforehand. We must give our all out on the pitch so that we don’t have any regrets this time.”

He added: “Appearing at the Club World Cup might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for some players, so we should be careful not to repeat the mistakes of the past, when we played well but lost. That’s why we have to stay focused and do our best to advance as far as we can in the competition.”

That Esperance are even in the position to take on the most successful club sides in the world has come as a bit of a shock to the defender. Egyptian aces Al-Ahly were strongly fancied to beat them over the two legs of the CAF Champions League final. They lost 3-1 in Alexandria but fashioned a brilliant comeback in the second leg, winning 3-0 to claim the title 4-3 on aggregate. 

But now that they have made it to the UAE they do, Chemmam admitted, have one eye on a clash with Real Madrid. 

“We didn’t really envisage winning the Champions League this season, but we wanted to go as far as possible,” Chemmam said. 

“There wasn’t much pressure on us, and we managed to go on a run and claim the title. And so we’ll try to do the same in the Club World Cup. 

“We won’t set an objective, but everyone’s been dreaming of making it to the final and playing Real Madrid, the European champions.

“I’m so fortunate to be an Esperance player. They’re a big name, not just in Tunisia, but throughout Africa. If I didn’t play here, I might not have had the chance to participate in the Club World Cup in 2011, and now again in 2018. That said, I’ll need to handle the large amount of responsibility placed on my shoulders, and hopefully we’ll record better results at this tournament compared to last time around in Japan.”

If Chemmam and his Esperance side can cause a shock or two over the coming few days, it perhaps would not be too much of a surprise. It is the team’s centenary year and as seen with the CAF Champions League win, luck does seem to be on their side. 

“Winning the Champions League this year was special because it came in the club’s centenary year and against a big team, Al Ahly,” Chemmam said. “Out of all the trophies we’ve won, this one is unique because we not only beat them, but we also played better than them. It was a happy day for Tunisia and for Esperance’s supporters, of course. It was an exceptional tournament for us.”

Of their last-four opponents he added: “It’ll be a tough match.

“Without a doubt … Al-Ain will have a lot of supporters in the stands, and that will give them a boost. However, our fans will be there for us too. They follow us wherever we go, and we expect that to continue at the Club World Cup.”