Lewis Hamilton on top as Mercedes dominate Formula One opening practice

Defending six-time champion Lewis Hamilton topped the times at Friday’s opening practice at the belated and surreal season-opening Austrian Grand Prix. (Reuters)
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Updated 03 July 2020

Lewis Hamilton on top as Mercedes dominate Formula One opening practice

  • Lewis Hamilton tops times ahead of Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas at season-opening Austrian Grand Prix

SPIELBERG, Austria: Defending six-time champion Lewis Hamilton topped the times ahead of Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas as Formula One roared back at Friday’s opening practice at the belated and surreal season-opening Austrian Grand Prix.
Three months after the cancelation of the original campaign starter in Australia and six months on from the last race meeting, it was business as usual for the dominant black arrows with Max Verstappen third for Red Bull ahead of McLaren’s Ferrari-bound Carlos Sainz.
After a slow start on a damp surface at the Red Bull Ring, following overnight rain, Hamilton, sporting a new Black Lives Matter helmet to match his black race suit, was on the pace immediately in his W11 car of the same color, repainted from silver this year to support equality and diversity.
It was as if the lengthy delay created by the COVID-19 pandemic had no effect on the teams, cars and drivers other than Ferrari whose new SF91 machine was, as forecast, unable to match the pace set at the front by Mercedes.
Ferrari plan to revise their car with updates for the Hungarian race in two weeks’ time following the second event in Austria next week.
Four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, who is set to leave the outfit at the end of the year, struggled to 12th, two places behind team-mate Charles Leclerc, in the eerie surroundings of the fan-less circuit in the Styrian Alps where pit-stops were curiously controlled with all the mechanics in masks and protective gear.
In mild weather conditions, with track temperatures measured at 22 degrees Celsius compared to 57 degrees for last year’s race, Mercedes had no cooling problems as Hamilton outpaced Bottas by three-tenths and was six-tenths clear of Verstappen.
Sergio Perez was fifth in Racing Point’s ‘pink Mercedes’ ahead of Lando Norris in the second McLaren, Alex Albon in the other Red Bull and McLaren-bound Daniel Ricciardo of Renault. Kevin Magnussen was ninth for Haas.
The session saw Verstappen recover from a spin at Turn One and Daniil Kvyat of Alpha Tauri run off at the final corner, causing Williams’ George Russell to take dramatic avoiding action while Romain Grosjean was stuck in the Haas garage with brake problems throughout the session.


Lebanese footballer dies of bullet wound

Updated 17 min 36 sec ago

Lebanese footballer dies of bullet wound

  • Mohamed Atwi, 32, played as a midfielder for a number of Lebanese clubs and won the national league three times with Beirut’s Ansar, his club for almost a decade
  • Tributes poured in for the player, who was also capped three times for his country

BEIRUT: A prominent Lebanese footballer has died of a bullet wound sustained last month during a funeral for one of the victims of the Beirut port blast, his club said Friday.
Mohamed Atwi, 32, played as a midfielder for a number of Lebanese clubs and won the national league three times with Beirut’s Ansar, his club for almost a decade.
“A sad day for sport... a great loss for Lebanese football,” Wael Chehayeb, an official with his latest club Al-Akhaa Al-Ahly, posted on social media.
Tributes poured in for the player, who was also capped three times for his country.
Atwi was hit in the head by a bullet as he walked on a street in a Beirut neighborhood last month.
Initial reports suggested he was struck by a falling bullet fired in the air from a nearby procession mourning one of the firefighters killed in the August 4 port explosion.
Atwi’s family however has demanded a full investigation into the circumstances of his death, over which no arrests have been made.
Shooting in the air for celebrations and funerals is common in Lebanon despite recurring injuries from falling bullets.