Bottas tops practice times for Abu Dhabi grand prix

Renault mechanics watch Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas on a screen during practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Reuters)
Updated 29 November 2019

Bottas tops practice times for Abu Dhabi grand prix

  • The Finn, who is assured already of finishing second behind six-time champion Hamilton in this year’s title race, clocked a best time of one minute and 36.957 seconds
  • Bottas will start from the back of the grid on Sunday regardless of how he does in qualifying after being sanctioned for taking a new power-unit

ABU DHABI: Valtteri Bottas topped the times for Mercedes ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in Friday’s opening free practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The Finn, who is assured already of finishing second behind six-time champion Hamilton in this year’s title race, clocked a best time of one minute and 36.957 seconds to outpace Verstappen by half a second and Hamilton by six-tenths.
Bottas, who announced the break-up of his marriage on Thursday, will start from the back of the grid on Sunday regardless of how he does in qualifying after being sanctioned for taking a new power-unit.
He clocked his best lap on a set of medium tires midway through a session stopped twice for red flags following a blown engine in Daniel Ricciardo’s Renault and a late crash by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
The four-time champion Vettel had arrived late at the circuit on Friday morning following the birth of his third child, a son, on Wednesday.
Red Bull new boy Alex Albon was fourth, Vettel fifth and Romain Grosjean sixth for Haas ahead of Charles Leclerc in the second Ferrari, Kevin Magnussen in the second Haas, Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi and Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg who is set to start his final Grand Prix with the team.
Bottas dominated the session from the start and was only replaced briefly early on by Hamilton before the stoppages on a hot day of blue skies at the Yas Marina circuit.
Ricciardo’s engine failure dumped a lot of oil on the track, which led to a 10-minute clean-up before the action resumed and Vettel spun backwards into the barriers.
Williams’s George Russell took part in the session and wound up 20th despite doubts about his fitness due to illness. He went through a medical check before taking part.
Hamilton ran briefly in the session with number one on the nose of his car and, when asked earlier about Bottas’ private predicament, said that balancing the demands of racing with a full private life was dificult.
He congratulated Vettel on the new addition to his family while sympathizing with Bottas following the split with wife Emilia, an Olympic swimmer and a horse show jumping rider, after three years’ marriage.
“It’s similar to most sportsmen and women, but it may actually be slightly different in that we are away for crazy amounts of time,” he said.
“I for one also find that incredibly difficult, with your goal to be as competitive as you can be, but there are those who manage it — like Seb.”


Steady Nadal beats animated Kyrgios in 4 at Australian Open

Updated 27 January 2020

Steady Nadal beats animated Kyrgios in 4 at Australian Open

  • Top-ranked Nadal kept his thoughts to himself and limited his shot-making to the more traditional variety
  • Nick Kyrgios delivered 25 aces and some memorable moments

MELBOURNE, Australia: Rafael Nadal left the muttering and the preening, the underarm serving and the ‘tweening, to his younger, flashier opponent, Nick Kyrgios.
Surely, Nadal was content to collect the win in the latest installment of their rivalry.
The No. 1-ranked Nadal kept his thoughts to himself and limited his shot-making to the more traditional variety in an entertaining 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (4) victory over home-crowd favorite Kyrgios on Monday to reach the Australian Open quarterfinals and get closer to a record-tying 20th Grand Slam title.
Here’s how the elevated stakes and tension affected both men: At 5-all in the pivotal third-set tiebreaker, Kyrgios double-faulted. That offered up a gift-wrapped set point. But Nadal failed to take advantage because he double-faulted right back.
Still, two points later, the 23rd-seeded Kyrgios put a forehand into the net, and the set was Nadal’s. Not long after, Kyrgios double-faulted again to get broken at love.
That put Nadal ahead 2-1 in the fourth, seemingly in control. He faltered, though, while serving for the win at 5-4, double-faulting to create a pair of break points, the second of which Kyrgios converted with a jumping forehand and celebrated by throwing his head back and screaming. Spectators rose and roared and waved their Australian flags in support of the 24-year-old from Canberra.
Kyrgios delivered 25 aces and some memorable moments — including walking out on court and warming up for the match in a No. 8 Los Angeles Lakers jersey to honor Kobe Bryant, the five-time NBA champion and 18-time All-Star who died in a helicopter crash Sunday at age 41.
Nadal was just the better player overall. One measure: Nadal finished with more than twice as many winners, 64, as unforced errors, 27.