Hamilton wins seventh British Grand Prix on three wheels

Racing with punctured tire on the last lap, Mercedes’ British driver Lewis Hamilton goes on to win the British Grand Prix at the Silverstone motor racing circuit. (AFP)
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Updated 03 August 2020

Hamilton wins seventh British Grand Prix on three wheels

SILVERSTONE, UK: World championship leader Lewis Hamilton survived a tense last lap drama with a deflated and shredded tire to clinch a record seventh victory in Sunday’s British Grand Prix, claiming “my heart almost stopped.”
The six-time world champion led from lights to flag, and through two safety car interventions, before he suffered a front left tire failure on his final lap, leaving him to nurse his Mercedes home with second-place  Max Verstappen in hot pursuit in his Red Bull. He finished 5.9 seconds behind.
The Dutchman had inherited second when Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, running comfortably in second for most of the contest, was hit by the same problem, his front-left delaminating and deflating on his penultimate lap.
The Finn limped back to the pits and finished pointless in 11th place while his rivals slowed to preserve their rubber, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc taking third place behind Verstappen ahead of Daniel Ricciardo of Renault and Lando Norris of McLaren.
Hamilton’s victory was the 87th of his career and moved him within four of Michael Schumacher’s record of 91.
Norris’s teammate Carlos Sainz was also a puncture victim in the closing laps of an exciting race that saw him fall from fourth to 13th.
Esteban Ocon finished sixth in the second Renault ahead of Pierre Gasly of Alpha Tauri, Alex Albon in the second Red Bull, Lance Stroll of Racing Point and four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, in his final season with Ferrari.
“In the last few laps, I started to back off and then on the last lap, it just deflated,” said Hamilton. “It was heart in the mouth. I nearly didn’t get round the last two corners. I was managing it and praying to get round and not be too slow. “I have definitely never experienced anything like that on the last lap and my heart definitely nearly stopped.”  In the drivers championship, he leads with 88 points after four races, a lead of 30 ahead of the luckless Bottas.
“It was lucky and unlucky for us,” said Verstappen.
“The Mercedes were too quick. The tires didn’t look great with 10 laps to go and then Valtteri got a puncture and they boxed me to go for fastest lap ... Second is a
good result.” Leclerc said: “It was a tricky race — as soon as I heard Valtteri had a tire problem, I slowed down quite a lot. We took our opportunities.”
On another bright, but windy day, Hamilton overcame an imperfect start from his 91st pole position and record seventh in Britain.
He led as he pulled clear before a final corner collision, on the opening lap, involving Kevin Magnussen and the luckless Albon led to the first deployment of a safety car.
The Dane’s Haas car was on the outside of Albon’s Red Bull, with the Thai driver refusing to concede, when they crashed and Magnussen spun into a gravel trap, his front left wheel smashing off in the barriers. The stewards blamed Albon and gave him a five-second penalty. The safety car led the field for five laps before handing back to Hamilton who stayed in control until lap 13 when Daniil Kvyat suffered a right rear puncture and crashed heavily at Maggots, where both rear wheels smashed off his Alpha Tauri. He was unhurt, but a second safety car was required for five laps while debris was cleared.
This reduced the field to 17, Nico Hulkenberg having failed to start on his dramatic return, with Racing Point, as stand-in for coronavirus victim Sergio Perez.
The interruptions did nothing to halt Mercedes’ progress at the front, Hamilton and Bottas pulling clear of Verstappen with some ease.
By lap 30, the gap was eight seconds with Leclerc 14 seconds adrift.
Behind them, Grosjean and Sainz were engaged in a fierce battle for fifth, which saw the Frenchman weaving to resist at Brooklands. The Frenchman continued his aggressive approach, however, in a duel with Ricciardo.
It was duly noted by the stewards as more “moving under braking.” Ricciardo called it “sketchy.”


Djokovic storms to 70th win at Roland Garros, Ostapenko stuns second seed Pliskova

Updated 20 min 55 sec ago

Djokovic storms to 70th win at Roland Garros, Ostapenko stuns second seed Pliskova

PARIS: World number one Novak Djokovic took another confident stride closer to an 18th Grand Slam title with his 70th win at Roland Garros on Thursday as Jelena Ostapenko stunned second seed Karolina Pliskova, throwing the women’s draw wide open.
Djokovic, the 2016 champion, needed just 83 minutes to complete a 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 demolition of Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis.
The top seed went level with Roger Federer for victories at the tournament, although still 25 behind Rafael Nadal’s all-time best.
He will now face Colombian lucky loser Daniel Elahi Galan, ranked 153, for a place in the last 16.
“It was difficult for Ricardas in the third set as he had an injury and couldn’t move very well,” said Djokovic whose afternoon stroll was eased by his opponent needing treatment on a back problem after the second set.
“But I felt good just as I did in the first round and I want to continue like that.”
Djokovic, bidding to become the first man in half a century to win all four majors twice, also dropped only five games in his first round match against Mikael Ymer who likened facing the Serb to a “snake killing its prey.”
Victory stretched his 2020 record to 33-1, his only defeat coming via disqualification from the US Open.
Former champion Ostapenko swept second seed Pliskova out of the tournament, triumphing 6-4, 6-2 on the back of 27 winners.
In a women’s draw reeling from the injury-enforced withdrawal of Serena Williams, and the absence of world number one and defending champion Ashleigh Barty, as well as US Open winner Naomi Osaka, world number 43 Ostapenko pressed her case for a second Paris title after her shock 2017 breakthrough.
She will now face Spain’s Paula Badosa who put out Sloane Stephens, the 2017 US Open winner and 2018 runner-up in Paris, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.
Pliskova, 28, made the semifinals in 2017 but has now failed to get beyond the third round in her eight other appearances.
“I tried to be aggressive but not miss too much as she’s such a great player,” said 23-year-old Ostapenko who had lost in the first round in her last two visits.
Adding insult to injury, Garbine Muguruza, the 2016 champion from Spain, knocked out Pliskova’s twin sister Kristyna, 6-3, 6-2.
Ninth seed Denis Shapovalov committed 106 unforced errors as he crashed out following a 7-5, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 3-6, 8-6 loss to Roberto Carballes Baena.
Spanish world number 101 Carballes Baena prevailed after a five-hour battle on Court Suzanne Lenglen to set up a clash with 18th seed Grigor Dimitrov.
Shapovalov, who reached the quarter-finals of the US Open, twice served for the match in the final set at 5-4 and 6-5 but was broken three times in succession.
“Scheduling is absolutely awful. It’s just complete trash,” raged the Canadian on having to return to the court later to play doubles.
Dimitrov downed Slovakia’s Andrej Martin 6-4, 7-6 (7/5), 6-1 to reach the third round for a fourth successive year.
Greek fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who made the fourth round last year, downed claycourt specialist Pablo Cuevas 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 having needed to come back from two sets down against Jaume Munar in his opener.
Next up for Tsitsipas is Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene, the world number 56.
Also moving on was two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova, whose best Roland Garros run was to the semifinals in 2012.
The seventh seed defeated Italy’s 94th-ranked Jasmine Paolini 6-3, 6-3 to register her 25th French Open win.
Kvitova next faces 18-year-old Leylah Fernandez of Canada, last year’s junior champion, who reached the last 32 of a Slam for the first time by seeing off Polona Hercog 6-4, 3-6, 6-1.
Australian Open champion and fourth seed Sofia Kenin needed three sets to see off Ana Bogdan of Romania, winning 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 while eighth-seeded Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus took down Russia’s Daria Kasatkina 7-6 (8/6), 6-0.
Kasatkina has now gone two years without beating a top 10 player.