‘I couldn’t see where I was going,’ says Lewis Hamilton after Austria rain masterclass

Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton stears his car during the qualifying for the Formula One Styrian Grand Prix on July 11, 2020 in Spielberg, Austria. (AFP)
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Updated 11 July 2020

‘I couldn’t see where I was going,’ says Lewis Hamilton after Austria rain masterclass

  • After a disappointing practice day on Friday, the six-time world champion bounced back to his best

SPIELBERG, Austria: Lewis Hamilton said he survived some “heart in the mouth” moments on Saturday as he claimed a spectacular pole position in treacherous rain-swept conditions for Sunday’s Styrian Grand Prix.
After a disappointing practice day on Friday, the six-time world champion bounced back to his best as he outpaced nearest rival Max Verstappen of Red Bull by more than 1.2 seconds.
His dramatic demonstration of supreme skill and speed on a wet track at the Red Bull Ring increased his record total of pole positions to 89.
“Honestly, I am pleased with that,” he said.
“What a tricky day! The weather is obviously incredibly difficult out there for all of us and, a lot of the time, you cannot actually see where you are going.
“I had one big moment, on the lap before last, when I had a big aquaplane.
“I had my heart in my mouth, but I was able to improve on the last lap, nice and clean. I love these days.”
The 35-year-old Briton had struggled with set-up issues on his Mercedes in Friday’s practice sessions, but said the team had resolved them and he was confident about Sunday’s race, whatever the conditions.
“Yesterday was a difficult day,” said Hamilton.
“It started off well in FP1 and then in FP2 there was a big issue for us, but we discovered it overnight — nothing major.
“I think today would have been better for us if it had been dry, but I am grateful for the rain, like always! I love these kind of conditions.
“Tomorrow looks like a much sunnier day, but we are prepared for both conditions and that’s where I want to start.
“So, I am glad it was a trouble-free session with no mistakes. That’s always a positive.”
Hamilton’s performance enabled him to prove also that his form has not been affected by his passionate support for the global Black Lives Matter movement and the anti-racism efforts launched in Formula One.
“I don’t feel like I need to refocus,” he said this week after finishing fifth in last Sunday’s season-opening Austrian Grand Prix on the same circuit, won by his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
“My race was pretty strong. I need to do a better job, but I wouldn’t say I was distracted. I am focused on both — trying to fight and win this championship, but also fighting for equal rights.”
On Thursday, he said he was hoping to be able to take the knee again — as he and 13 other drivers did before last Sunday’s race — and was seeking a way to make this possible.
“If I can find a way of making sure it doesn’t get in the way of us doing our job, then I will,” he said.


Guardiola’s faith in Jesus bodes well for major clash

Updated 35 min 42 sec ago

Guardiola’s faith in Jesus bodes well for major clash

  • Brazilian player says he uses his compatriot Ronaldo as a benchmark

LONDON: The performance of Gabriel Jesus in Manchester City’s 2-1 Champions League victory over 13-time winners Real Madrid has given manager Pep Guardiola great heart as he seeks to end the club’s quest for the coveted crown.

The 23-year-old Brazilian made light of the absence of talismanic striker Sergio Aguero and followed up his impressive display in the last 16 first leg win by the same scoreline in Madrid with a match-winning contribution at the Etihad on Friday night.

Guardiola’s side face Lyon next Saturday in Lisbon in a one-off quarterfinal after the French side eliminated Juventus.

City with all their firepower might be seen as favorites but recent history suggests otherwise with Lyon having beaten them 2-1 in Manchester and then drawn 2-2 at home in last season’s Group stage.

The club’s record goalscorer Aguero — who was an unused substitute in the first leg back in February — is undergoing treatment for a knee injury in Barcelona.

Guardiola, though, feels that Jesus’s performances has given an extra pep in the team’s step after a disappointing defense of their Premier League title.

He believes with the confidence gained by Jesus in getting the better of the Spanish giants this can be a launching pad to at last triumph in a competition they have failed to shine in in the past despite the enormous investment by the Abu Dhabi owners. Their best showing is the 2016 semifinals under Guardiola’s predecessor Manuel Pellegrini.

“He’s (Jesus) the man of the match for these two games, he was decisive for us,” said Guardiola in the warm afterglow of the victory.

“He helped us when we suffered in the bad moments. He is the best guy in these situations.

“Gabriel always helps us through more than goals but for a striker it is important to score.

“Big players have to show in the biggest stages in the big games and he showed it twice against the kings of this competition.

“It was a big step forward for him to show: ‘Here I am, I can win games by myself.’”

Jesus, who has scored six Champions League goals this season, after netting four each in his previous two campaigns, says he uses his compatriot Ronaldo as a benchmark.

“His quality is different from me but I have to work to be a great striker,” Jesus told BT Sport.

The City manager is also emboldened ahead of the Lisbon trip with the assured display at the back — so often this season seen as thir Achilles heel. It is an area which Guardiola has invested in already bringing Dutch international center-back Nathan Ake to the club from relegated Bournemouth this week.

“The most important thing tonight was we didn’t make mistakes behind,” he said.

“We have suffered for that in this competition before.

“We were incredibly stable behind.”

Guardiola — who guided Barcelona twice to the Champions League trophy but failed to repeat the success with Bayern Munich — said beating Real is significant for everyone at the club but will count for little if they falter now.

“It is important,” he said.

“For Real Madrid to beat a big team in the last 16 is normal.

“For us, if we are going to be champions we have to beat these teams. “If we think that (beating Real) is enough we will show how small we are.

“We don’t have a lot of presence in Europe so it is so important for the club, for all the workers at the club and for our supporters.”

Guardiola, though, cautioned against taking Lyon lightly.

“I just spoke with the scouting department about Lyon and they told me to be alert,” said Guardiola.

“The big clubs lift the titles. Real Madrid reached the final three times in a row and this shows we can do it, but we have to see how we recover.

“Last season we played Lyon twice and we could not beat them. We have to be calm.”

The remainder of the competition will be played in Portugal with the semifinals scheduled for August 18/19 and the final on Aug. 23.