Supreme Hamilton wins Spanish GP, extends championship lead

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain celebrates on the podium after winning the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack. (AP)
Updated 13 May 2018
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Supreme Hamilton wins Spanish GP, extends championship lead

BARCELONA: Lewis Hamilton extended his lead in the world championship to 17 points on Sunday when he roared to an imperious victory as Mercedes scored a one-two triumph at the Spanish Grand Prix.
The defending four-time world champion dominated from start to finish, save for a spell during the mid-race pit-stops, and clocked a series of record laps as he registered his second successive win.
It was the 64th victory of his career — only Michael Schumacer on 91 has more — and came from his 74th pole.
He joined seven-time champion Schumacher and two-time champion Mika Hakkinen as a three-time winner in Spain.
“That’s more like it guys, great job,” said Hamilton on team radio.
“Today I felt that synergy with the car that I have not felt all year so now we have to do it again.”
Valtteri Bottas came home second in the second Mercedes ahead of Max Verstappen of Red Bull who resisted late pressure from four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, who led Hamilton by 17 points after the opening three races this year.
The German, who made a good start, was second until he took an ill-judged second pit-stop, under Virtual Safety Car conditions, midway through the race, dropping two places.
Bottas said: “Of course,I wanted to fight for the win, but this is a good result for the team.”
Australian Daniel Ricciardo was fifth in the second Red Bull ahead of Kevin Magnussen of Haas and Spaniards Carlos Sainz, of Renault, and two-time champion Fernando Alonso, of McLaren.
Mexican Sergio Perez of Force India came home ninth ahead of the impressive Monegasque Charles Leclerc of Sauber.
Only 14 of the 20 starters completed the race.
On a cooler day with intermittent sunshine and heavy clouds looming, the track temperature was 35 degrees Celsius, and the air 15, when the race began.
Hamilton made a clean start from his 74th pole position, but team-mate Bottas was unable to resist Vettel who took advantage of slip-stream on the straight to steer past the Finn into the first corner.
After overnight rainstorms, it was little surprise there was a Safety Car incident on the opening lap when Grosjean spun at Turn Three at high speed and then attempted to recover.
His Haas spun back across the track in a cloud of black smoke ahead of the oncoming cars — leaving Pierre Gasly and Nico Hulkenberg with nowhere to go as they plunged into the spinning Haas machine.
Clearly upset and crestfallen, Grosjean kept his helmet on as he slumped on some nearby steps before going to the medical center for a check-up.
The field ran behind the Safety Car until the race re-started on lap seven, the champion bolting clear to build a lead while Bottas closed up to challenge Vettel for second.
By lap 10, a rapid Hamilton was breaking the lap record to move 3.8 seconds clear of Vettel with Bottas third and Raikkonen fourth ahead of the two Red Bulls.
Hamilton maintained his stunning speed to extend his lead to 5.5 seconds by lap 13 and seven by lap 17.
Raikkonen reported loss of power shortly before Hamilton pitted from the lead, after 25 laps, rejoining second behind Verstappen, ahead of Ricciardo, Vettel and Bottas. The luckless Finn climbed from his Ferrari and out of the race.
After 40 of the 66 laps, Esteban Ocon pulled up after an engine failure, bringing Virtual Safety Car (VSC) conditions. Hamilton led Vettel by 12 seconds and stayed out as the German pitted, comparatively slowly, for fresh medium tires and rejoined fourth.
When racing resumed on lap 43, Hamilton led Bottas by 15 seconds.
Verstappen, third, had damage to his front-wing endplate after a collision but was told to continue despite loss of down-force and did just that as Hamilton, back to his best, controlled proceedings to the chequered flag.


Maurizio Sarri does not fear the sack after Chelsea’s sorry show against Manchester United

Updated 19 February 2019
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Maurizio Sarri does not fear the sack after Chelsea’s sorry show against Manchester United

  • Italian still focused on job at hand with Blues out the FA Cup and falling in the Premier League.
  • Sarri has lost the fans in a short space of time at Stamford Bridge. (AFP)

LONDON: Maurizio Sarri insists he is not worried about being sacked as Chelsea manager despite his troubled side’s lacklustre FA Cup surrender against Manchester United.
Sarri faces a fight to save his job after FA Cup holders Chelsea crashed to a 2-0 fifth round defeat at Stamford Bridge on Monday.
Ander Herrera headed United into the lead from Paul Pogba’s cross in the 31st minute.
France star Pogba doubled United’s advantage on the stroke of half-time when he met Marcus Rashford’s cross with a diving header.
Sarri endured chants of “you don’t know what you’re doing” and “you’re getting sacked in the morning” as furious Chelsea fans showed their frustration at the club’s fifth defeat in their last 10 games.
Chelsea’s stars, publicly criticized by their manager on several occasions this term, hardly looked to be battling to keep the Italian as they failed to muster a shot on target after the 11th minute.
Sarri’s fragile relationship with his players, combined with the mutinous atmosphere among supporters, increased the feeling that the former Napoli boss might not survive until the end of his first season with Chelsea.
Demanding Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has acted quickly in the past when managers have been perceived to have lost the support of the squad.
But Sarri is adamant he isn’t concerned about his perilous position and he claimed he is solely focused on salvaging his club’s turbulent season.
Asked if he was worried Abramovich might be ready to wield the axe, Sarri said: “It’s not my problem.
“I was only worried about my position when I was in League 2 in Italy, not now.
“I am worried about the results, not about the fans. Of course I can understand the situation.
“I can understand our fans, because the result wasn’t really good. We are out of the FA Cup.”
Following widespread reports that Sarri’s players are underwhelmed by his stubborn refusal to change his tactics, the 60-year-old did make the alarming admission that he wasn’t certain he still had their backing.
“Of course I’m not sure, but I think so. I think the situation with the players is very good in terms of our relationship but that’s not so important,” he said.
“What’s important is to play and get good results.”
Chelsea supporters called for their club’s former legend Frank Lampard, now in charge at Derby, to be hired and directed foul-mouthed abuse at Sarri.
“Not really very well, but sometimes yes. For everything there is the first time,” he said when quizzed on if he heard the taunts from his own fans.
Sarri believes his situation will be improved significantly if Chelsea can string together a winning run, starting with Thursday’s Europa League last 32 second leg against Malmo and the League Cup final against Manchester City on Sunday.
“It’s really very easy. If we are able to win three or four matches in a row, it will be easy. Of course it’s difficult to win five matches in a row,” he said with a curious smirk that suggested he didn’t really believe his own outward optimism.
“We need of course more aggression, more determination in the situation inside our box and inside the opposing box.
“My job is to work with my players to try and improve in a few days because we conceded the second goal without determination or aggression.
“The difference was there. We played 78 balls in the opposing box and United only 16 balls our box. We are supposed to win.”
Having previously questioned whether his players understood his football philosophy, Sarri repeated that complaint.
“Not completely at the moment because, especially in a situation like the second half, we have to move the ball faster mentally and materially,” he said.
“We need more movements without the ball and less individual actions.”