After Ferrari pole, Lewis Hamilton plans to study late and find Raikkonen-beating plan in Italy

Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland steers his car during the qualifying session at the Monza racetrack, in Monza, Italy, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. The Formula One race will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
Updated 01 September 2018
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After Ferrari pole, Lewis Hamilton plans to study late and find Raikkonen-beating plan in Italy

MONZA: Championship leader Lewis Hamilton said he planned to study late into the night Saturday to find a way to beat Ferrari in Sunday’s keenly-anticipated Italian Grand Prix.
The defending world champion qualified third behind Kimi Raikkonen, who took pole with Formala One’s record fastest lap, and title rival Sebastian Vettel, who is 17 points behind the Briton in the drivers’ standings.
After acknowledging Ferrari’s marginally superior speed, he said: “The start will hopefully create an opportunity for us.
“I’ve got to study hard tonight to figure out a way how I can get in front of at least one of the Ferraris on the first lap.
“It’s great that Valtteri is right behind me so we can really apply the pressure on the red cars,” he said, referring to Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.
Hamilton broke the record set by Juan-Pablo Montoya at Monza in 2004, in a BMW-powered Williams, but it was not enough to earn him a front row spot as his run of four consecutive Italian poles ended.
“They did a solid job,” he said, during post-qualifying interviews on the track, when he was booed by sections of the partisan crowd.
“We gave it everything we could — it’s obviously incredibly close between us, but they’ve had the upper-hand this weekend. Everyone in the team is working as hard as they can to make the difference.
“It’s incredibly close, which is great for the sport and it’s great to see so many fans here.
“We’ve improved the car overnight and I’m really happy with where we were today. I’m proud of my guys for pushing this hard.
“We’ve squeezed absolutely everything out of the car, I kind of knew that the Ferraris might just be able to pull out some extra bit of time.
“We’ve got to fight hard tomorrow. The long run pace of the Ferraris looked quicker than ours, so it’s not going to be easy — that’s for sure.”
Bottas, who battled to take fourth, said: “It has been difficult. We tried some set-up changes for final practice and it was better in the corners, but on the breaking I lost performance. It was easy to lock up.
“But this is only qualifying and the weekend is not over. We will give it everything tomorrow in the race. The first lap is going to be interesting — we might get a bit of tow-effect into Turn One.”


Luka Modric wins world player of year, ends Ronaldo-Messi duology

Updated 11 min 6 sec ago
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Luka Modric wins world player of year, ends Ronaldo-Messi duology

  • Egyptian legend Mohamed Salah wins fan-voted Puskas Award for scoring the best goal of the year
  • Saudi Arabian legend Sami Al-Jaber presents award for Best Fans to Peruvian contingent

LONDON: Croatia’s Luka Modric was crowned Men's Player of the Year at FIFA’s The Best Awards, but insisted beaten finalist Mohamed Salah should be proud of his record-breaking season, assuring the Egyptian he will have other opportunities to win the sport’s premier individual award. 

Modric, who won the Champions League for a third successive year with Real Madrid and led his country to the World Cup final in Russia this summer, beat both Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo to the award. The 33-year-old is the the first player outside of Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to win the prize since 2008. Neither of the two former winners attended the otherwise star-studded event at Royal Festival Hall.
 
“It’s a great honor and beautiful feeling to stand here with this amazing trophy,” Modric said, after being presented the award by FIFA president Gianni Infantino. “I want to give congratulations to Mohamed and Cristiano for the great seasons they had.”

Looking at Salah, Modric added: “I am sure in the future you will have another opportunity to fight for this trophy.”

The 26-year-old Egyptian did take to the stage to collect a prize when, earlier in the evening, he picked up the fan-voted Puskas Award for scoring the best goal of the year. The Liverpool forward’s strike against city rivals Everton last December in the Premier League was deemed more worthy than Ronaldo’s bicycle kick in the Champions League and Gareth Bale’s emulation in the competition’s final a few weeks later. 

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah is presented with the FIFA Puskas award by Noel Gallagher and Didier Drogba. (Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley)

“I’ve nothing much to say about this,” Salah responded after accepting his award from fellow African Didier Drogba and English musician Noel Gallagher. “I’m very happy and proud… and looking forward to another award later tonight.”

He, however, had to wait to learn he would be not be returning to the stage as host Idris Elba and a host of special guests presented a wide range of other awards. 

Didier Deschamps was awarded Best Coach having led France to World Cup glory, beating out competition from Zinedine Zidane and Zlatko Dalic. Zidane resigned from Real Madrid earlier this year after winning three successive Champions League titles and embraced his former France teammate amicably. Dalic, who spent seven years in the Gulf with Saudi clubs Al-Faisaly and Al-Hilal before enjoying great success with Al-Ain in the UAE, inherited a Croatia side on the edge of failing to qualify for the World Cup and took them to the final within 12 months. 

Reynald Pedros won Best Women’s Coach for his work with Lyon, having led them to a memorable league, cup and Women’s Champions League treble, while Brazil's Marta was crowned Best Women's Player for a record sixth time for her role in winning the Copa America, fending off Lyon duo Ada Hegerberg and Dzsenifer Marozsan.

Real Madrid new boy Thibault Courtois was handed Best Goalkeeper for his performances for Chelsea last year, although was curiously beaten by Manchester United’s Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea to a place in the Fifa All-Star Team. Salah was also surprisingly snubbed for the FIFA All-Star Team, with Ronaldo being joined in a forward line alongside Messi, PSG’s Kylian Mbappe, and Chelsea’s Eden Hazard. Modric slotted in behind alongside N’golo Kante, who was positioned to protect a defense of Marcelo, Dani Alves, Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos.

“I am very happy and proud to be named as one of the best 11 players in the world again,” Varane told reporters afterwards. The French defender was the only player to win both the World Cup and the Champions League this past year.

Salah, who disappeared after the ceremony without speaking to any media, had said before the awards were announced that he was not pinning his hopes on victory, instead looking forward to the future.  

“I'm happy to be here, but I’m sure it’s not the last time,” he said. “My goal is just to be better than last season, but I’m not worrying about that. We’ll just see what happens. [Qualifying for the World Cup was] the best moment in my life so far; a big thing for us as a nation. It would mean a lot to win; it’s a dream come true, but I have a long time still to play football.”

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabian legend Sami Al-Jaber presented the award for Best Fans to a small contingent of Peruvians who represented the more than 40,000 compatriots who attended this summer’s World Cup in Russia, their country’s first appearance in 36 years. 

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AWARD RESULTS


Puskas Award: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
Best Goalkeeper: Thibault Courtois (Real Madrid)
Best Coach: Didier Deschamps (France)
Best Women’s Coach: Reynald Pedros (Lyon)
Best Fans: Peru Fans
Fair Play Award: Lennart Thy (VVV Venlo)
World XI: De Gea; Alves, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Modric, Kante; Hazard, Messi, Mbappe; Ronaldo 
Women’s Player of the Year: Marta (Orlando Pride)
Men’s Player of the Year: Luka Modric (Real Madrid)