Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton fear Ferrari ambush in Singapore

Lewis Hamilton leads the world title standings but is all too aware that Ferrari and arch rival Sebastian Vettel are catching him up. (AFP)
Updated 12 September 2018
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Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton fear Ferrari ambush in Singapore

  • It is expected that Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix will favour Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari.
  • Hamilton currently holds a 30-point lead over the German in the world title standings.

LONDON: Lewis Hamilton may have tightened his grip on a fifth world title after extending his championship lead with a surprise victory in Monza two weeks ago, yet Mercedes are playing down the Briton’s chances of adding to that triumph in Singapore.
In the last three of his four Formula One title wins, Hamilton has returned from the annual summer break in brilliant form, reeling off a succession of victories in his dominant Mercedes to close the door on his title rivals.
However, while the Briton has finished second in Belgium and first in Italy since the season resumed in August, his car is seen as inferior to Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari and Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix should once again favor the German.
Second-placed Vettel slipped 30 points behind Hamilton after coming off the worst in a first-lap collision with the Briton in Monza and the 31-year-old knows he has little room for further mishaps with only seven rounds remaining.
The pair arrived in Singapore in a similar position a year ago, but the pole-sitting Vettel crashed into Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and team mate Kimi Raikkonen soon after the start as Hamilton cruised to victory and never looked back.
Vettel and Hamilton are the most successful drivers on the floodlit Marina Bay Street Circuit with seven wins between them but Mercedes chief Toto Wolff says the odds are stacked against the Briton matching the German’s four Singapore victories.
“Singapore has features that we’ve struggled with in the past. The short straights, the slow, tight corners and the bumpy surface all make (it) one of the trickiest tracks of the season for us,” the Austrian said in a team statement.
“Last year, we started the race from the third row — and came home with a win and a third place. On paper, the track should favor the Ferraris, but the championship fight is so close that predictions are almost meaningless.
“We’re in the middle of a monumental championship fight... every man and woman in the team is willing to push themselves to the limit; we will be fighting with everything we’ve got for these two championships.”
Vettel, who will be joined by Sauber’s Charles Leclerc next season with Raikkonen heading the other way, has been criticized for losing points through over-aggressive driving but Wolff came out in defense of the German after his Monza spin.
“I’m not completely neutral, but for me Lewis is the best driver of recent years. Even so, I find the criticism of Sebastian not quite fair,” Wolff told Die Welt newspaper of Vettel, also a quadruple world champion.
“If possible to win, he has the ambition to do it with the necessary aggression. That requires a lot of courage and his way of driving sometimes leads to collisions.
“It could easily have been Lewis instead of Sebastian who spun (at Monza). Then the whole grand prix would have been different.”


Cricket world body rejects Pakistan compensation claim over India

Updated 20 November 2018
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Cricket world body rejects Pakistan compensation claim over India

DUBAI: The International Cricket Council has dismissed a compensation claim by Pakistan over India’s refusal to honor an agreement to play bilateral series.
“Following a three-day hearing and having considered detailed oral and written submissions, the Dispute Panel has dismissed the PCB’s claim against the BCCI,” the ICC said in a statement.
The decision cannot be appealed.
The dispute centered on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) according to which India and Pakistan had agreed to play six bilateral series between 2015-2023, four of which would be hosted by Pakistan.
The PCB had filed a compensation claim of $70 million.
But India refused to play Pakistan citing the Indian government’s objections due to strained relations with Pakistan.
According to the agreement, the six tours would include up to 14 Tests, 30 one-days and 12 Twenty20 internationals.
The MoU was a reward to Pakistan for backing the “Big Three” plan according to which India, Australia and England had the major share of power and revenues of world cricket.
However, that arrangement fell apart and the BCCI refused to accept the MoU as a legal document, dismissing it as a “piece of paper.”
India cut off cricket ties with Pakistan after the 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai which left more than 160 people killed.
The two sides have not played a full series since Pakistan’s tour of India in 2007.
Pakistan toured India for a limited-overs series with two Twenty20s and three one-day internationals from December 2012-January 2013 but full ties were not restored.
After negotiations about the proposed tours failed, the PCB filed a notice of dispute with the ICC resolution committee in November last year, claiming the 70 million dollars in compensation.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), which has reportedly spent one million dollars fighting the case, described the decision as “disappointing.”
“Following a lengthy dispute resolution process, the announcement of the decision has come as a disappointment,” it said.
“PCB will determine its future course of action in this regard after detailed deliberations and consultations with its stakeholders.”
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) welcomed the decision, saying it had always maintained that the MoU was non-binding and that it “merely expressed an intention to play.”
“The BCCI wholeheartedly welcomes the decision of the Dispute Panel. The BCCI will now move the Dispute Panel to recover its legal cost from the PCB,” it said in a press release.