Lewis Hamilton wins incident-filled Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in F1 finale

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Lewis Hamilton celebrates with a trophy after winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as second place Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel looks on. (Reuters)
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US actor Will Smith waves the checkered flag as Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton crosses the finish line during the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit. (AFP)
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Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain leads at the first corner after the start during the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018. (AP)
Updated 25 November 2018

Lewis Hamilton wins incident-filled Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in F1 finale

ABU DHABI: New five-time champion Lewis Hamilton claimed his 11th win of the season on Sunday when he guided his Mercedes around the Yas Marina Circuit for a well-judged triumph in an incident-filled season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Hamilton, who started at the front of the grid from an 83rd-career pole position, came home 2.5 seconds ahead of his main title rival four-time champion German Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari.
Hamilton’s victory completed a season of total dominance for the Englishman. 
“I am so happy right now,” he said, before praising Vettel. “I know next year he’s going to come back stronger. Whatever people say, we always do our best.”
Vettel responded generously.
“He deserves to be champion,” Vettel said. “It’s been a tough year and I tried until the last lap.”
The win came after a race that began with an horrific opening lap crash from which Nico Hulkenberg escaped unhurt, his blazing Renault car having barrel-rolled into the barriers after a clash with Haas driver Romain Grosjean.
Grosjean has a reputation as one of F1’s more reckless — or adventurous — drivers. He caused the crash by clipping the right rear tire of Hulkenberg’s car, sending it tipping upward, barreling over and sliding on its back. As some smoke billowed from the car, a fearful-sounding Hulkenberg urged his team to get him out fast.
“I’m hanging here like a cow,” he said. “There’s fire. There’s fire.”
A concerned Grosjean asked about Hulkenberg’s condition on his radio. Stewards took no action against Grosjean, deeming it a racing incident.
“I was very sorry for him, but there was nowhere I could go,” Grosjean said.
Carlos Sainz came home sixth for Renault ahead of Ferrari-bound Charles Leclerc of Sauber, Sergio Perez of Force India, Romain Grosjean, who had tangled with Hulkenberg on the opening lap, and his Haas team-mate Kevin Magnussen.
Retirement-bound two-time champion Fernando Alonso could only manage an 11th place for McLaren in his 311th and farewell appearance. The Spaniard, who started 15th, was just not quick enough to get any more out of his car.
He did manage one last piece of radio magic, though, when an engineer in the closing laps said: “Go and get a point.”
Alonso replied: “I’ve already got 1,800.”
A single point would have taken him up to 1,900, but he could not overtake Kevin Magnussen’s Haas.
Alonso was not helped by a five-second time penalty for cutting a corner when he missed his braking point pushing while chasing the Dane.
“It’s been an honor and a privilege to race in the same era as him,” Hamilton said. “The sport will miss him, we will miss him.”
Alonso has already confirmed he will use his retirement to pursue non-racing interests.
Meanwhile, Red Bull driver Max Verstappen finished third in the race ahead of teammate Daniel Ricciardo for a fifth straight podium.
Verstappen overtook Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas to finish fourth overall behind Kimi Raikkonen, who retired early into his final race for Ferrari.
Verstappen and Ricciardo made light work of overtaking Bottas, who finished fifth, raising questions again about the Finnish driver’s ability to withstand pressure in a season where he has not won.


Juventus coach Sarri: Cristiano is in another class

Updated 20 January 2020

Juventus coach Sarri: Cristiano is in another class

  • The 38-year-old is the only player to have scored at least league 15 goals in each of the last 14 seasons

MILAN: Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to form has coincided with Juventus taking a firm grip on Serie A.

Ronaldo did not score at all in November, but he scored twice as Juventus beat Parma 2-1 on Sunday to take his tally to 11 in his last seven league matches.

The win also put Juventus on course for a record-extending ninth straight Serie A title as the Bianconeri moved four points above Inter Milan. They were two points behind the Nerazzurri a month and a half ago.

Ronaldo has struggled with injury this season and missed three Serie A matches, playing through pain in others.

The 38-year-old Portugal forward has nevertheless scored 16 goals in 17 matches, becoming the first Juventus player to have that many goals after 20 matches since Omar Sivori in 1960.

Ronaldo is also the only player to have scored at least 15 goals in one of Europe’s top five leagues in each of the last 14 seasons.

“Cristiano is in another class,” Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri said. “Sometimes he poses you a little bit of a problem but he will solve 100 others for you.”

While Juventus managed to grind out results in November when Ronaldo wasn’t scoring, Inter struggle when their top scorers are not on form.

There have been three matches since December where neither Romelu Lukaku nor Lautaro Martínez have managed to find the back of the net. All three ended in draws.

The latest was a surprise 1-1 result at relegation-threatened Lecce on Sunday.

That is also down to a general drop in pace in the team as, prior to that, Inter had managed to win the previous four matches where Lukaku and Martínez didn’t score.

“The final result stems from the fact that we’re a team that needs to go at 200 kph. We cannot afford to be off the pace,” Inter coach Antonio Conte said. “It’s evident that if we go at an average pace, if we go into cruise speed, we become a normal team and aren’t able to get a result.”

Substitute

Mario Balotelli’s match lasted only seven minutes on Sunday and he could now find himself with even less playing time in the coming weeks.

Balotelli came on as a substitute in the 74th minute of Brescia’s 2-2 draw against Cagliari but shortly afterward was shown a yellow card for a high tackle and then immediately shown a second after repeatedly swearing at the referee.

Depending on what referee Antonio Giua writes in his report, Balotelli could be suspended for several matches.

The forward will certainly miss Brescia’s next match, against former team AC Milan.

“I think the yellow card was too harsh. Mario didn’t feel it was right, and his protests didn’t seem excessive to me,” Brescia coach Eugenio Corini said. “It’s a pity because he came on with the desire to make us win the match.”

Balotelli was banned for the first four matches of the Serie A season following a red card in his last match with Marseille last season.

“It’s incredible how one episode can always drastically change from too negative or too positive everyone’s opinion on the character or professionalism of a person,” Balotelli wrote on his Instagram story after the match. “I will continue with my daily work this time, too. It’s not a problem. You can continue to judge me as you wish.”