Valteri Bottas edges Lewis Hamilton as Mercedes takes front row in Austria

Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes' Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari's German driver Sebastian Vettel pose after the qualifying ahead of the Austrian Formula One Grand Prix. (AFP/ANDREJ ISAKOVIC)
Updated 30 June 2018
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Valteri Bottas edges Lewis Hamilton as Mercedes takes front row in Austria

SPIELBERG, Austria: Valtteri Bottas edged teammate Lewis Hamilton for pole position at the Austrian Grand Prix as Mercedes locked up the front row of the grid for the third time this season on Saturday.
Bottas led Hamilton by 0.019 seconds to get his first pole of the season. The Finnish driver also started in front last year and went on to win the race.
“I can guarantee I am more hungry for the win than anyone on the grid,” Bottas said. “The whole weekend we’ve made good progress with the set-up. The car felt so good.”
Hamilton said Bottas deserved to beat him.
“I am really happy. This is a great result for the team,” he said.
Sebastian Vettel was more than three-tenths off the pace in third, followed by Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen. In a duel of two four-time world champions, Vettel trails leader Hamilton by 14 points going into Sunday’s ninth of 21 races.
Bottas took advantage of mistakes by Hamilton and Vettel in the final third of qualifying, and neither could match the Finn’s speed in their final laps.
“I knew I needed a banker to make safe I qualified in a good position,” Vettel said. “I had a bit left but not enough to challenge Valtteri.”
Vettel was under investigation by race stewards for allegedly impeding Carlos Sainz, who told his team, Renault: “I had to take a kerb to avoid him, I nearly crashed.”
Max Verstappen was fifth but his Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo was beaten by Haas driver Romain Grosjean for sixth.
Underlining his potential, Charles Leclerc became the first Sauber driver since 2014 to reach the second qualifying round in six straight races. The Monaco-born driver posted the 13th quickest time but will have to start from 18th following a grid penalty.
Leclerc, who reportedly is a candidate to replace Raikkonen at Ferrari next season, ended practice with an engine issue, forcing his team to replace the gear box.
The qualifying result put Mercedes ahead of Ferrari again, hours after Vettel’s fastest time in final practice which suggested the Italian team had caught up with the upgraded Mercedes cars.
Hamilton and Bottas dominated practice on Friday after the team applied several aerodynamic changes to their cars, including a new side pod design and an adapted front and rear wings.
The upgrades put Mercedes in a favorable position to stretch its winning streak on the Austrian track. It has won all four races since the Austrian GP returned to the calendar in 2014, with Hamilton and Bottas triumphing in the past two seasons.
The team’s dominance over the years has been a result of its superior power unit and the layout of the track, at 4.3 kilometers (2.7 miles) among the shortest in F1 with just nine turns and four long straights, favoring cars with good traction and straight-line speed.
Situated in Central Austria’s countryside, the track includes inclines of up to 12 percent.
Overtaking has always been tough on this track, but for the first time Sunday’s race will feature a third DRS zone, a section where drivers are allowed to use a drag reduction system in order to get a speed boost while chasing the car in front.
Sunday’s race is the second of F1’s inaugural triple header, after last week’s French GP with the British GP at Silverstone to follow on July 8.


Algeria sink Senegal in fiery final to claim second Africa Cup of Nations

Updated 20 July 2019
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Algeria sink Senegal in fiery final to claim second Africa Cup of Nations

  • Bounedjah gave Algeria a dream start in the second minute
  • For Senegal, who lost to Algeria by the same scoreline in the group stage, the long wait for a first continental crown goes on

CAIRO: Baghdad Bounedjah’s early goal propelled Algeria to a first Africa Cup of Nations title in 29 years after a fiery 1-0 victory over Sadio Mane’s Senegal in Friday’s final in Cairo.

Bounedjah gave Algeria a dream start in the second minute when his deflected shot looped over Senegal goalkeeper Alfred Gomis, and it proved enough for the 1990 champions to lift the trophy on foreign soil for the first time.

For Senegal, who lost to Algeria by the same scoreline in the group stage, the long wait for a first continental crown goes on as coach Aliou Cisse, the captain of the 2002 runners-up, again fell short in the final.

It was the first title-decider to feature two African coaches since 1998, with Algeria boss Djamel Belmadi completing a whirlwind 12 months at the helm after inheriting a side that failed to make it out of the group stage two years ago.

With defensive rock Kalidou Koulibaly suspended for Senegal, Salif Sane deputised at the back and Ismaila Sarr was recalled in attack, while Belmadi kept faith in the same side that overcame Nigeria with an injury-time free-kick from Riyad Mahrez.

Senegal had understandably feared the absence of Napoli star Koulibaly, banned after two bookings in the knockout rounds, although the towering Sane was desperately unlucky as Algeria grabbed the lead with scarcely a minute played.

As Bounedjah took aim from 20 yards his effort smacked off Sane and arced high into the air before dropping underneath the crossbar and beyond a static Gomis, sparking delirious celebrations from both players and fans, some of whom arrived for the final on military planes provided by the Algerian government.

It was the first time Gomis had conceded in almost 400 minutes in Egypt having replaced the injured Edouard Mendy ahead of Senegal’s final group game.

Henri Saivet, who missed a penalty in the 1-0 victory over Tunisia, tried to catch Rais Mbohli out with a free-kick while Mbaye Niang fizzed a powerful drive just over as Senegal gradually showed signs of life before the half ended with both sets of players embroiled in a scuffle as they headed for the tunnel.

Senegal thought they had won a penalty on the hour when Cameroonian referee Alioum Alioum pointed to the spot for a suspected handball by Adlene Guedioura, but the official reversed his decision after a VAR review.

Niang rounded an advancing Mbohli after a searching ball through from Cheikhou Kouyate but the forward sliced wide of the target from a tough angle, with the Algeria ‘keeper then acrobatically tipping over a rasping drive from Youssouf Sabaly.

The Desert Foxes started to look jaded as Senegal brought on fresh legs in Krepin Diatta and Mbaye Diagne, but Youcef Belaili nearly made it 2-0 when his cross brushed the head of a defender and skimmed the roof of the net.

Sarr blazed over on the volley as Algeria clung on to their advantage in the closing minutes, the final whistle greeted by an outpouring of raw emotion as the North Africans emerged worthy winners of the expanded 24-team event.

On Saturday, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman telephoned Algeria’s interim president Abdelkader Bensalah to congratulate him on Algeria’s African Cup of Nations win, with Bensalah thanking the king for his phone call.