Redemption for ‘hero’ Daniel Ricciardo at Monaco

Daniel Ricciardo celebrates winning the Monaco Grand Prix. (Reuters)
Updated 27 May 2018
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Redemption for ‘hero’ Daniel Ricciardo at Monaco

  • Australian bounces back from heartache in 2016
  • Vettel finishes second, Hamilton third

MONACO: Daniel Ricciardo overcame chronic power problems to claim an emotional, cherished and redemptive triumph for Red Bull in Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix.
Two years after being deprived of victory by a bungled late pit stop in 2016, the big-smiling Australian led from pole to flag, on the way resisting pressure from Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari.
It was the Australian’s first Monaco victory, his second this season and the seventh of his career.
“You have done an amazing job there — you are our hero!,” said team chief Christian Horner. “I don’t know how you did that. Unbelievable. Payback!“
Ricciardo, whose engine power was reduced early in the race, came home 7.3 seconds clear of Vettel after 78 largely processional laps with championship leader Lewis Hamilton finishing third for Mercedes, all the leading drivers struggling with tire wear.

"Thank God that’s over," said Hamilton. "That was the most boring race I’ve ever taken part in."
He added: "Big congratulations to Red Bull and to Daniel. They did a great job and they were the quickest. We knew that would be the case."
Vettel said: "We had the pace, it was a tricky race. Daniel had the answers at all times. He was a bit stronger, we couldn't follow, and I was going through the tyres a bit quicker."
Kimi Raikkonen finished fourth in the second Ferrari ahead of fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes and Esteban Ocon, who was sixth for Force India.
Pierre Gasly finished seventh for Toro Rosso ahead of Nico Hulkenberg of Renault, Dutchman Max Verstappen in the second Red Bull, who had started 20th on the grid, and Carlos Sainz in the second Renault.
Ricciardo made a clean start and stayed in control throughout while at the back, his Red Bull team-mate Verstappen who had failed to qualify after crashing in final practice, made short work of the tail-enders around him on the opening lap.
He was up to 14th by lap nine when the leaders began to think about their pit stops, with a bold Hamilton going for an ‘under-cut’ on lap 12 to switch from the short-life ‘hypers’ to ‘ultras’ in a bid to make up time and pass Vettel, but after rejoining seventh behind Ocon, he had to work to regain places.
Ricciardo also pitted, on lap 17, and within a lap the original grid order was re-established thanks to all the leading group switching to new rubber.
On lap 28, Red Bull were given worse news when Ricciardo reported ‘losing power.’ Vettel was faster behind him by six-tenths and closing the gap.
"We can see what’s going on," Red Bull responded by radio. "You just need to keep it smooth. Keep it focused." "Yeh – but I’ve got no power though," he replied with 48 laps of the 78 to go.
By lap 32, Ricciardo’s lead was down to 1.2 seconds with Hamilton nine seconds adrift in third.
"Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help," said Ricciardo, whose superior chassis and smooth driving allowed him to fend off Vettel, struggling with tyre wear.
Tyre performance was clearly the most telling factor as Ricciardo hung on grimly ahead of Vettel and a frustrated, grumbling Hamilton, who variously described his tyres as bald, grained and worse, but continued to close on the leading duo.
By lap 50, they were separated by only 2.6 seconds.
Verstappen continued to supply the thrills and climbed to ninth, when he passed Sainz under late braking by running over the kerbs at the chicane. A fastest lap followed soon after.
With six laps remaining, the Virtual Safety Car (VSC) was deployed after Monegasque Charles Leclerc suffered a brake failure in the tunnel and could not avoid driving his Sauber into the rear of New Zealander Brendon Hartley’s Toro Rosso as he braked for the chicane. Both men escaped unhurt.

Results

1. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Red Bull) 1hr 42min 54.807sec)

2. Sebastian Vettel (GER/Ferrari) at 7.336sec

3. Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes) 17.013

4. Kimi Räikkönen (FIN/Ferrari) 18.127

5. Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Mercedes) 18.822

6. Esteban Ocon (FRA/Force India) 23.667

7. Pierre Gasly (FRA/Toro Rosso) 24.331

8. Nico Hülkenberg (GER/Renault) 24.839

9. Max Verstappen (NED/Red Bull) 25.317

10. Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP/Renault) 1:09.013

11. Marcus Ericsson (SWE/Sauber) 1:09.864

12. Sergio Pérez (MEX/Force India) 1:10.461

13. Kevin Magnussen (DEN/Haas) 1:14.823

14. Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL/McLaren) 1 lap

15. Romain Grosjean (FRA/Haas) 1 lap

16. Sergey Sirotkin (RUS/Williams) 1 lap

17. Lance Stroll (CAN/Williams) 2 laps

18. Brendon Hartley (NZL/Toro Rosso) 8 lps,

19. Charles Leclerc (MON/Sauber) 8 laps,


Joan Oumari makes case for Lebanon causing Asian Cup shock

Updated 18 October 2018
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Joan Oumari makes case for Lebanon causing Asian Cup shock

  • Lebanon have made it to their first Asian Cup since 2000 and are up to 77th in world rankings.
  • Oumari feels the Cedars have what it takes to upset a few of the big guns.

LONDON: While much of the focus ahead of the Asian Cup will be on defending champions Australia, who are one of the favorites, along with Japan and South Korea, Lebanon’s Joan Oumari is hoping his side can grab people’s attention and cause a shock or two.
The Cedars’ last appearance at the tournament came back in 2000 when they were hosts — this is the first time they have qualified for the tournament on merit.
Since their FIFA world ranking fell to 147 in 2016, Lebanon have been one of Asia’s most improved and in-form teams, with their ranking jumping to its current position of 77 — the highest in their history.
Drawn alongside regional heavyweights Saudi Arabia, Qatar and North Korea in Group E, it will not be easy, but Oumari, one of their star players, is convinced they can put on a show when the tournament gets under way in January.
“I think when we play and stay like we are now we can go far,” the defender told Arab News. “In football everything is possible and we have a great team.”
Oumari knows that just being back at the Asian Cup after a 19-year absence is already a victory for the nation of six million people.
“For sure it is a great thing for us as a national team, but also for all the people (of Lebanon),” the 30-year-old said. “I hope we will write history and get very far in this tournament.”
Oumari’s journey to play for the Cedars is an interesting, and not unfamiliar one in the recent climate of war, family displacement and refugees. His parents, both born in Lebanon, fled the country during the civil war of the 1970s, making their way to Germany, where Oumari was born in 1988.
Starting his professional career in the lower divisions, he gradually worked his way through the professional tiers of club football in Germany, playing for SV Babelsberg in the fourth division, FC Rot-Weiß Erfurt in the third tier, before making the step up to FSV Frankfurt in 2.Bundesliga in 2013.
Along the way he came to the attention of the Lebanon Football Association, and when the invitation came to join the Cedars in 2013, there was no hesitation in accepting and representing the country of his heritage, if not his birth.
“When I got the invitation from the national team for sure I didn’t have to think about it,” he recalled. “I was very proud to play for the national team.”
His debut in a 2-0 win against Syria in September 2013 did not go to plan, however, getting sent off late in the game. His next appearance would not come for almost two years after Miodrag Radulovic had taken over as coach.
“To be honest it was my decision not to play for the national team for these two years,” he said.
“The main reason was our ex-coach (Giuseppe) Giannini, because after he invited me to the national team I was on the bench and I am not used to flying all over the world just to sit on the bench.
“I am not a player who sits on the bench in my club and not in the national team. After Mr. Radulovic started at the national team the federation called me and convinced me to come.”
The change in fortunes for the Cedars since Radulovic took over has been remarkable, and as it stands they are one of the most in-form teams in Asia, going 16 games without a loss dating back to March 2016.
A friendly match with defending Asian Cup champions Australia in Sydney next month will be sure to provide tougher competition, but given their form they travel to Sydney confident of causing an upset.
While the Asian Cup is within touching distance, Oumari’s immediate focus is on club matters and trying to help his side avoid relegation. Having made the move to Japan’s Sagan Tosu, becoming the first Lebanese player to play in the J.League, Oumari has been in and out of a side that has struggled for consistency and currently lie 17th in the 18-team league.
“I hope that we can avoid relegation and stay up, that’s why I came to help the team,” he said.
One of his new teammates in Japan is Spanish World Cup winner Fernando Torres, and despite the team’s struggles on the field, Oumari is loving his time in Japan.
“It’s really nice here and I like it very much,” he said. “I am enjoying the time with my teammates after training. For sure Fernando (Torres) is a great football player and any football player can learn from him no matter which position you are playing.”