Lewis Hamilton ‘excited’ by unforgiving Monaco street fight

Lewis Hamilton is confident of building on his win in Spain when he tackles the street circuit of Monaco this weekend. (Reuters)
Updated 23 May 2018

Lewis Hamilton ‘excited’ by unforgiving Monaco street fight

  • Hamilton has a 17-point lead over Vettel
  • 'It is going to be a close fight'

MONACO: Lewis Hamilton is aiming to reel off his third successive win and to consolidate his grip on this year’s title race at this weekend’s 65th running of the classic Monaco Grand Prix.
The defending four-time world champion, fresh from a lucky victory in Azerbaijan and a convincing triumph in Spain, arrives in the Mediterranean principality with a 17-points lead on nearest rival and fellow-four-time champion Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari.
But in an unpredictable yo-yo season punctuated by unexpected dramas, the 33-year-old Englishman knows he faces a challenge to stay on top on the unforgiving barrier-lined streets.
“We have worked very hard as a team to get into this position, but we know this is a major task. It is going to be a close fight and I am excited by the prospect of this race.”
Vettel won last year’s race for Ferrari, ending a four-year run of Mercedes domination at a track where qualifying is of paramount importance due to the difficulty in overtaking during the race.
The German is looking for his third Monaco win and the 50th of his career on Sunday when, many drivers have suggested, the use of a new ‘hyper-soft’ tire with pink sidewalls will deliver record laps.
That prospect and the likely return of grid girls as the Monaco organizers defy F1’s new American owners Liberty Media who ended the tradition this year has added to the keen sense of anticipation.
Pirelli boss Mario Isola said the ‘hyper’ is a step up in performance and is likely to be used both in qualifying and the race.
Spaniard Carlos Sainz of Renault, who tested the new tire at Barcelona following the Spanish Grand Prix, said he expected it to make a major impact.
“It is quite impressive, that tyre, I must say,” said Sainz. “It gives easily a second per lap and that was at Barcelona. Around Monaco, this tire could be something special.
“We could see some very quick laps. I would be prepared for lap records again – and in qualifying it will be absolute madness. It will be crazy.
“Last year, with the new cars, it was something incredible and this year with a two steps softer compound and a tire that for me is the best tire Pirelli has done in a lot of years, it’s going to be crazy.”
As Vettel bids to bounce back, after leading the championship earlier in the season, he and Hamilton both fear as major challenge also from Red Bull who will be celebrating their 250th race start on Sunday.
They won both their 100th and 150th races and Dutchman Max Verstappen believes they should be making a major impact this weekend.
“The team has worked hard and I feel we should be really competitive this time,” he said.
Hamilton and Mercedes are expecting Red Bull to be a threat.
“It is going to be a serious challenge,” said Hamilton.
“The others are going to be hard to beat. If you look at Daniel Ricciardo, in Spain, he was much quicker in the last sector and the last sector is all down-force, so they’re going to be rapid in Monaco, and very hard to beat.
“Montreal as well, where it’s very, very hard to get temperature into the tires, it’s going to be multiple laps of driving to get temperatures into those tires there.
“So different things that are coming up are challenging, I don’t think it’s going to be as clear as it was at every single race.”

Drivers championship
1. Lewis Hamilton (GBR) 95 pts
2. Sebastian Vettel (GER) 78
3. Valtteri Bottas (FIN) 58,
4. Kimi Räikkönen (FIN) 48
5. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) 47
6. Max Verstappen (NED) 33
7. Fernando Alonso (ESP) 32
8. Nico Hülkenberg (GER) 22
9. Kevin Magnussen (DEN) 19
10. Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) 19
11. Sergio Pérez (MEX) 17
12. Pierre Gasly (FRA) 12
13. Charles Leclerc (MON) 9
14. Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) 8
15. Lance Stroll (CAN) 4
16. Marcus Ericsson (SWE) 2
17. Esteban Ocon (FRA) 1
18. Brendon Hartley (NZL) 1

1. Mercedes 153 pts, 2. Ferrari 126, 3. Red Bull 80, 4. Renault 41, 5. McLaren 40, 6. Haas 19, 7. Force India 18, 8. Toro Rosso 13, 9. Sauber 11, 10. Williams 4

Unrivaled: India now 7-0 in World Cup games against Pakistan

Updated 17 June 2019

Unrivaled: India now 7-0 in World Cup games against Pakistan

  • Conditions did not dampen the enthusiasm of a predominantly pro-India crowd 

MANCHESTER, UK: For such an intense rivalry, it is still a lopsided contest when India and Pakistan meet at the Cricket World Cup.

India extended their record to 7-0 against Pakistan at the World Cup with an 89-run victory in a rain-interrupted encounter Sunday that likely will remain the most-watched game of the six-week tournament.

India started ominously with Rohit Sharma scoring 140 from 113 deliveries and skipper Virat Kohli contributing 77 in a total of 336-5, a record for a One-Day International at Old Trafford.

Pakistan were always behind the run-rate required.

Fakhar Zaman (62) and Babar Azam (48) put on 104 for the second wicket but when both were dismissed by left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav within nine balls, Pakistan’s hopes faded with them.

When Hardik Pandya took wickets with consecutive deliveries in the 27th over, Pakistan were 129-5. And with a result in play because both teams had batted more than 20 overs, there was no chance of sharing points if rain prevented any more play. A delay after the 35th with Pakistan at 166-6 just prolonged the inevitable.

Pakistan were  set a revised target of 302 from 40 overs and the last five overs were a non-event with Pakistan finishing 212-6. India remained unbeaten in four games to start the tournament.

The conditions did not dampen the enthusiasm of a predominantly pro-India crowd that filled the 162-year-old venue to its 23,500 capacity. Seats were in excessively high demand, after all, with the International Cricket Council reporting more than 800,000 ticket applications for the game.

There is always extra significance when the nuclear-armed neighboring countries meet at ICC tournaments because India and Pakistan play cricket so infrequently in bilateral series.

This was no different, with a 1 billion-plus TV audience and an almost football-like atmosphere at the ground.

Kohli’s single to get off the mark was met by “Kohli-Kohli-Kohli” chants from the predominantly pro-India crowd.

Sharma set the tone with his second century of the tournament, sharing partnerships of 136 with KL Rahul (57) for the first wicket and 98 with Kohli for the second.

He seemed ready to really unleash when he needlessly paddled a ball from Hasan Ali to Wahab Riaz at short fine leg in the 38th over.

Kohli continued, becoming the third Indian batter to pass 11,000 ODI runs. In doing so in his 222nd innings, he became the fastest to reach the milestone.

Kohli was on 71 and India was 305-4 when rain stopped play for the first time in the 47th over. The India captain was caught behind off Mohammad Amir’s bowling not long after he returned from the 55-minute rain break and, surprisingly, walked off before umpire Marais Erasmus had a chance to signal him out.

There was some speculation Kohli did not edge the ball but it was inconsequential in the end, as India passed Sri Lanka’s 318-7 against England in 2006 to set the highest ODI total in Manchester.

After a batting onslaught at the top, Pakistan pegged back the run-rate slightly as Amir (3-47) dismissed Pandya (26) and then had MS Dhoni (1) and Kohli caught behind — both the ex-captain and captain walking.

Things started going haywire for Pakistan after skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed won the toss and fielded, going against the advice sent via social media by Prime Minister and 1992 World Cup-winning captain Imran Khan.

Overcast and cool overhead conditions that usually would favor swing and seam bowling didn’t greatly assist the Pakistan attack, with India racing to 52-0 in its most productive opening power play of the tournament.

The Pakistan pacemen had trouble with the umpires, with Amir and Wahab each cautioned twice for running on the protected area in the middle of the pitch. One further warning would have resulted in a suspension.

It also didn’t help that opener Imam-ul-Haq got out in rare circumstances to Vijay Shankar’s very first delivery at a World Cup — it coming on the fifth ball of Pakistan’s fifth over after Shankar was asked to finish it off for injured teammate Bhuveshwar Kumar.

Pakistan’s next game is at Lord’s against South Africa, which also has three points and only remote prospects of reaching the semifinals.