Lewis Hamilton takes pole for Spanish GP with track record

Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton gives the thumbs up after qualifying at the Spanish Grand Prix. (AFP)
Updated 12 May 2018
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Lewis Hamilton takes pole for Spanish GP with track record

  • Hamilton scorches to pole ahead of Bottas
  • Englishman will start at the front of the grid for the first time since Australia

BARCELONA: Lewis Hamilton set a track record to take pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix on Saturday.
Hamilton had a lap time of 1 minute, 16.173 seconds at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, smashing the previous lap record of 1.19.954 set by Rubens Barrichello in 2009. In doing so, Hamilton finished only four hundredths of a second ahead of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.
Sebastian Vettel, who had won three straight poles, will start third with Ferrari, ahead of teammate Kimi Raikkonen.
Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo were fifth and sixth, respectively.
“Very close qualifying. It took everything to get this result,” Hamilton said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do tomorrow, but it’s a good start.”
Hamilton hadn’t taken pole since the season-opener in Australia.
“Not entirely happy, but we expected Mercedes to be very strong,” Vettel said. “Tomorrow (Sunday) it should be an interesting race.”
A good starting position is crucial in Spain as there are not many overtaking opportunities.
Hamilton will be trying to win his second race in a row and add to his four-point lead over Vettel in the drivers’ standings. Vettel won in Australia and Bahrain, while Ricciardo was first in China and Hamilton triumphed in Azerbaijan.
Mercedes had been fastest in all three practice sessions this weekend, with Hamilton and Bottas leading the timesheets.
Most teams brought significant updates to Barcelona, which marks the beginning of the European season in F1.
Kevin Magnussen will start seventh with Haas, while teammate Romain Grosjean is 10th on the grid.
Both Spanish drivers made it to the final qualifying session, with two-time champion Fernando Alonso eighth with McLaren and Carlos Sainz ninth with Renault.
Raikkonen was on a new engine after a problem with the one he used on Friday.
There was some disquiet with the rear-view mirrors Ferrari mounted on the halos, with motorsport governing body FIA looking into a possible breach of regulations.
Brendon Hartley of Toro Rosso did not make it to qualifying because the team was not able to fix his car after a crash in the final minutes of Saturday’s practice session. He clipped the grass on the entry of a turn and span into the tire barrier, significantly damaging the car. The rear end fell apart as the car was being hoisted by a crane.
Lance Stroll continued to struggle with Williams, going off track in the final minutes of qualifying. He had also gone to the gravel in practice earlier on Saturday and on Friday.
Race organizers said additional security was implemented after several cars were broken into at a closed parking lot for the media at the track.


Naomi Osaka shocked as Kristina Mladenovic downs world No. 1 in Dubai

Updated 19 February 2019
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Naomi Osaka shocked as Kristina Mladenovic downs world No. 1 in Dubai

  • It was Osaka's first match since she won the Australian Open — her second consecutive Grand Slam title.
  • World No. 67 Mladenovic lost for words after surprise win.

DUBAI: Naomi Osaka stumbled badly in her first match since winning the Australian Open as the world number one went down in a flurry of errors to exit the Dubai Championships on Tuesday.
Dubai-based Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic claimed a 6-3, 6-3 victory to reach the third round as Osaka made 25 unforced errors.
The rout, which featured seven breaks of the Osaka serve, took barely an hour, sending Mladenovic into a Wednesday contest with Carla Suarez Navarro.
“This is my home tournament, I live here,” world No. 67 Mladenovic said. “It’s great to get a win like this in front of a big crowd.
“Beating the number one is always special.”
The second set was riddled with seven consecutive breaks of serve before Mladenovic finished off the job with a winner to the empty court on match point.
Osaka stunned the tennis world last week by announcing her split from coach Sascha Bajin despite winning back-to-back Grand Slam titles at the US and Australian Opens.
She said earlier this week that she would not prioritize “success over happiness” when asked about the sacking, and she never looked like winning in Dubai as she also served five double faults.
Earlier on Tuesday, Simona Halep and Petra Kvitova both won their opening matches, while Elina Svitolina made a strong start to her bid for a third straight title.
Kvitova, the 2013 winner, recovered from losing a first-set tiebreak to defeat Katerina Siniakova 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 6-4 and squeeze into the third round.
Halep, Dubai champion in 2015, saw off 2014 Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard 7-6 (7/4), 6-4.
The Romanian said she is still feeling the effects of her weekend final defeat in Doha by Elize Mertens.
“It was a good match because I won it. I tried to finish the points faster because I’m a little bit tired,” Halep said.
“She played well, the level was pretty good. At some points I really ran very well. I’m confident. I feel good on court even if I’m tired.”
A third former world number one also advanced as Angelique Kerber beat Dalila Jakupovic 7-6 (7/4), 6-3.
Kvitova, Wimbledon champion in 2011 and 2014, said she was unfazed about the early midday start to her match.
“I don’t really care if I play the first match,” the Australian Open runner-up said. “Now I’m done, so I have a free afternoon.
“I’m not sure what I’m pleased with... maybe with my comeback at the end.”