Sebastian Vettel eats into Lewis Hamilton’s championship lead with great win at Belgian Grand Prix

1 / 3
Sebastian Vettel celebrates a dominant victory at Spa Francorchamps. (AFP)
2 / 3
3 / 3
Updated 26 August 2018
0

Sebastian Vettel eats into Lewis Hamilton’s championship lead with great win at Belgian Grand Prix

  • German reduces Hamilton's lead in world title race to 17 points after brilliant win in Belgium.
  • Fernando Alonso involved in horror crash at start of famous race.

Sebastian Vettel made a crucial early overtaking move on Lewis Hamilton to win the crash-marred Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday and trim his rival’s overall lead.
Hamilton started from pole position for a record fifth time at Spa, and a record-extending 78th in Formula One, with Vettel second on the grid.
But Vettel has a knack for quick starts, and nudged his Ferrari past Hamilton’s Mercedes on the first lap with a smart move down the left.
“I had a great start. I knew my chance would come,” Vettel said. “Timing is crucial and I managed that perfectly I thought.”
It came moments after Fernando Alonso’s McLaren flew through the air and landed on top of Charles Leclerc’s Sauber. Leclerc, unharmed, was likely spared a head injury by the protective halo device surrounding the cockpit area of F1 cars.
Vettel finished about 12 seconds clear of Hamilton, with Red Bull driver Max Verstappen an impressive third after starting seventh.

Fernando Alonso was at the center of a horror crash at the start of the race. 

Vettel’s 52nd career win closes the gap to Hamilton to 17 points heading into next weekend’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza — Ferrari’s home.
Moments after his victory, Vettel removed his steering wheel and held it aloft, almost like a trophy, as he stood on his car to celebrate. Then he jumped into the arms of his mechanics and grabbed a Ferrari flag. With eight races remaining, it was a crucial win to halt Hamilton’s momentum.
It also moved Vettel one ahead of four-time F1 champion Alain Prost for third in all-time wins behind Hamilton (67) and Michael Schumacher (91).
“He drove past me like I wasn’t even there on the straight,” Hamilton said, expressing concern for Ferrari’s greater speed. “Congratulations to Seb.”
Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas, starting near the back after being penalized for too many engine changes, overtook Sergio Perez late on to place fourth.
Vettel’s Ferrari teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo both retired.
Hamilton initially held his lead, but Vettel overtook him sharply as they headed onto the Kemmel Straight. Vettel then held off Perez, who had jumped up from fourth to third by overtaking his Racing Point Force India team teammate Esteban Ocon.
The heavy crash at the start happened when Hulkenberg bumped into the back of Alonso, sending Alonso’s McLaren spinning and then flying up in the air.
It led to a safety car coming out on track.
Under safety car rules, drivers have to hold position and are not allowed to accelerate.
Starting from sixth place, Raikkonen lost his rear right tire after being clipped by Ricciardo — who retired later after running a lap down because of time he lost while his team repaired the damage on his car picked up during the chaotic start.
Vettel has been sloppy recently, crashing in the rain while leading the German GP and then losing position in qualifying for the Hungarian GP, once again in the rain.
This time the rain stayed away, and Vettel looked more composed.
When the race re-started, on lap four of 44, the German driver smartly blocked an overtaking attempt by Hamilton.
“I had a great re-start, I kept it clean,” Vettel said. “After that it was a very smooth race.”

It was a dominant performance from the German, who is now only 17 points behind Lewis Hamilton in the race to be world champion. 

Verstappen, meanwhile, displayed his usual slick overtaking by getting past Ocon and making light work of catching Perez to move into third — delighting the orange-clad Dutch fans congregated around the seven-kilometer Spa track nestled in the Ardennes forest.
Raikkonen was the previous Ferrari driver to win here, back in 2009, but his quest for a first F1 win since the season-opening Australian GP in 2013 ended with a mechanical failure on lap 9 — the third time the Finnish driver has failed to finish this season.
Up ahead, his teammate led Hamilton by 3.5 seconds at the halfway stage, when Hamilton pitted for new tires.
Vettel came in moments later and his stop was clean enough to see him regain the lead, but only a narrow 1.3 seconds ahead of Hamilton.
Ferrari’s greater speed on the straights helped him pad that advantage out within a few laps, and he coasted home.
Both drivers have five wins this season as they seek to win a fifth F1 title and move level with Argentine great Juan Manuel Fangio, and move within two of Schumacher’s all-time record.


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

Updated 19 February 2019
0

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.”