Hamilton races to comfortable victory in Styrian Grand Prix

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Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton (C), second placed Mercedes' Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas (L) and third placed Red Bull's Dutch driver Max Verstappen celebrate on the podium after the Formula One Styrian Grand Prix race on July 12, 2020 in Spielberg, Austria. (AFP / POOL / Joe Klamar)
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Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton steers his car during the Formula One Styrian Grand Prix race on July 12, 2020 in Spielberg, Austria. (AFP / POOL / Joe Klamar)
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Updated 12 July 2020

Hamilton races to comfortable victory in Styrian Grand Prix

  • It was Hamilton's first win of the season and the 85th of his career
  • Mercedes teammate Bottas finishes second to lead Drivers Championship.

DUBAI: After the mayhem, came normality.

Exactly a week after a raucous Austrian Grand Prix had kicked off the shortened and much-delayed 2020 Formula 1 season, the Red Bull Ring saw reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton win the Styrian GP in far more familiar circumstances, with Valtteri Bottas in second and Max Verstappen in third joining him on the podium.

Not that there was an absence of drama at the start of the race.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc had retired after colliding on the third turn of the first lap, an echo of the chaos that had made last weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix such an unpredictable delight.

“I apologized,” Leclerc said. “Excuses are not enough at a time like this. I am very disappointed in myself, I have done a very bad job today, I let the team down. I can only be sorry, even though I know it’s not enough. I hope I can learn from this and will come back stronger for the next races. But it’s a tough time for the team. I put all the effort of the team in the bin.”

Mercedes’ British driver Lewis Hamilton  with his trophy on the podium after winning the Formula One Styrian Grand Prix race on Sunday in Spielberg, Austria. (AFP)

Yet after the safety car had come and gone, the race quickly settled into a pattern seen in so many races over the last few years.

Saturday’s qualifying rounds had taken place in horrendous wet conditions, with Verstappen in particular complaining about the awful visibility. Sunday’s conditions, on the other hand, could not have been more ideal, and with that came the expected excellence from the usual quarters.

Ten laps in, and the leaderboard had a very familiar look to it. Mercedes’s Hamilton and Bottas in first and third; Red Bull’s Verstappen and Alexander Albon in second and fourth. The same quartet would claim the top four places.

With just about a third of the race gone, Albon was trailing the leader by 27 seconds. Bottas was closing in on Verstappen, while Hamilton was maintaining a five second lead. Even at the early stage, it was a question who would finish second.

Verstappen was the first to go into the pit, dropping to third, but with the other three of the top four changing into medium tires, the order was soon restored.

With 30 of the 71 laps left, an interesting subplot was developing between the drivers in fourth and fifth, with Renault’s Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo in McLaren closing in on Albon.

Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton steers his car during the Formula One Styrian Grand Prix race on July 12, 2020 in Spielberg, Austria. (AFP / POOL / Joe Klamar)

Just behind them, the twin threat of Racing Point’s Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll were having their own little battle. It was one won by the Spaniard who would go on to overtake Ricciardo on lap 29. 

Having started 17th on the grid, Perez was quickly becoming the standout story of the race, though there was little danger of him troubling the podium places.

With five laps left, the race exploded into life as Bottas overtook Verstappen, only for the Dutchman to retake second place and then lose it again within seconds.

Mercedes were now in one and two and with Red Bull in third and fourth. It was a race F1 fans had seen before.

Hamilton, after his disappointment of last week, crossed the finish line a comfortable 14 seconds ahead of Mercedes teammate Bottas, with Verstappen a further 11 seconds behind in third.

“What a fantastic job guys,” Lewis said over the radio to his team.

“Your driving wasn’t bad either,” came the reply.

Murray to the rescue as Nuggets hold of Lakers

Updated 23 September 2020

Murray to the rescue as Nuggets hold of Lakers

  • The 23-year-old Canadian’s three-pointer from 26 feet gave Denver a seven-point advantage at 106-99

ORLANDO: Jamal Murray scored 28 points as the Denver Nuggets held off a ferocious late fightback from the Los Angeles Lakers to roar back into contention in the Western Conference finals series on Tuesday.

Murray nailed two crucial late three-pointers in the closing minutes as Denver held on for a 114-106 victory in game three to reduce the Lakers’ lead to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.

But the Nuggets — who looked in complete control for long periods of the contest — were given a mighty scare by the Lakers in a thrilling fourth quarter battle.

The Lakers had trailed by 20 points with just over 10 minutes remaining but whittled away the Denver lead to just three points with 3min 53sec left on the clock in Orlando.

But just as it looked as if LeBron James and Anthony Davis were poised to complete a remarkable comeback, Murray regrouped to take the game away from the Lakers.

The 23-year-old Canadian’s three-pointer from 26 feet gave Denver a seven-point advantage at 106-99 and he then provided the assist for Paul Millsap to make it 108-99.

With less than a minute on the clock, Murray struck the dagger blow with a 29-foot three-point jumpshot to make it 111-99 and effectively seal victory.

Denver coach Michael Malone said his team — who had suffered an agonizing buzzer-beater defeat in game two on Sunday — were determined not to go 3-0 down in the series.

The Nuggets have already overturned 3-1 series deficits en route to the Western Conference finals.

“I had no doubt we were going to show up tonight,” Malone said.

“We have won six straight elimination games. Everybody always has us packing our bags and leaving, but we’re not ready to go. They’re a very resilient group and they have proved that time and time again.”

Asked about his late flourish, Murray said he had set out to lead by example.

“That’s my whole energy, my whole approach to the game, not getting down if I miss a couple of shots,” Murray said.

“I’m just trying to be aggressive ... but the most important part is the energy I bring when I’m talking to my team-mates, being a vocal leader, getting up and down and pushing everybody so they tend to follow. I just wanted to see them have a lot of fun today.”

The Lakers, meanwhile, were left reflecting on an uneven display which ultimately left James and Davis with too much to do.

James led the scoring with a triple double comprised of 30 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, with six turnovers. Davis had 27 points, with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (12) and Kyle Kuzma (11) the only other Lakers players to crack double figures.

Murray, who also had 12 assists, was backed with 26 points from Jerami Grant while Nikola Jokic weighed in with 22 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.

“You put yourself in an 18-point hole, it’s tough to climb out of that,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said.

“I thought Denver played with great energy throughout the game. We didn’t match it early, we matched it late. They’re a great basketball team so credit it to them for the win. They played a really good basketball game.

“We were not as sharp as we could have been on both ends of the floor. We were playing at a high level, but were a little bit off in the first half.

“But I liked the spirit that the guys competed with down the stretch to try and make it a game.”