Formula One drivers unite to say ‘Danke Seb’

All 20 drivers of the F1 grid line up for a photo. (Instagram/George Russel)
All 20 drivers of the F1 grid line up for a photo. (Instagram/George Russel)
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Updated 18 November 2022

Formula One drivers unite to say ‘Danke Seb’

Formula One drivers unite to say ‘Danke Seb’
  • Between 2010 and 2013, Vettel dominated the sport, winning four consecutive championships with Red Bull

ABU DHABI: If there was one driver that could unite the entire 2022 F1 grid and have his peers set aside any differences they may have to come together for one night to celebrate him, it had to be Sebastian Vettel.

Emotions will run high this weekend in Abu Dhabi as the four-time world champion bids farewell to Formula One.

Proceedings have already kicked off in the most iconic way as all 20 drivers went to dinner together on Thursday evening at Emirates Palace’s Hakkasan to pay tribute to Vettel.

“We’ve come a long way as drivers and continue to grow as men. Despite whatever may happen on the track we grow and become better each day. Us all coming together to celebrate life and Seb’s amazing career in F1 is truly a night I’ll never forget,” wrote Lewis Hamilton on his Instagram in a post that featured a photo of all the drivers, and one with just him and Vettel.

In a press conference on Thursday at Yas Marina Circuit, three world champions and veterans of the sport sat side by side: Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Vettel, who wasn’t too ready to reflect on his 17-year F1 career just yet.

Between 2010 and 2013, Vettel dominated the sport, winning four consecutive championships with Red Bull.

“When I think of Seb… he was a bit of a nuisance back then!” joked Hamilton on Thursday.

“I’m actually quite sorry,” Vettel cut in. “It’s your answer but I think Baku wasn’t a great moment, because what I did wasn’t right. But actually from that moment onwards…”

“Our friendship got better!” said Hamilton, completing the German’s sentence.

On the track, Vettel is as fierce as they come, but over the years, he somehow managed to combine his sheer competitiveness with a kind and open personality that earned him the respect of his peers.

Daniel Ricciardo revealed earlier this month that Vettel, his former teammate at Red Bull, frequently picked up the phone to check on him when news broke in August of McLaren terminating the Australian’s contract early.

“As a person, I can speak so highly of him. On a personal level, some things that he’s done for me, I’m just very, very appreciative of,” said Ricciardo on Thursday.

“I think he’s a very caring individual. He cares about the sport as a whole but also cares about us drivers. We’re all competitors for sure but he’s definitely able to separate that and just look out for us ultimately.

“As a competitor, I think back to 2013 when he won every race in the second half of the season, it was like a relentless approach, like he just wasn’t satisfied, like he ultimately just wanted to destroy the competition.

“You could just see the raw competitor in him and that drive to, not win, but to destroy if you will; you had to admire and respect that.”

Almost every younger driver on the grid has a personal anecdote that involves an act of kindness from Vettel.

2021 and 2022 world champion Max Verstappen, another former teammate of Vettel, is excited about swapping helmets with the 35-year-old this weekend, and shared a story from after his crash at Silverstone last season on Thursday.

“He’s had a career which a lot of people could only dream of. But at the end of the day that’s not everything,” said Verstappen.

“I think as a person he’s always been very caring. Of course I had many heated battles with him, especially in the beginning of my career. But for me one thing I will always remember for the rest of my life, last year Silverstone I came back from the hospital to get to my motorhome to get all my stuff and he was there waiting for me when I got out of the car and he was like, ‘Max, how are you doing? Are you okay?’ and that just shows how he is, a super nice, caring person, who’s not only there for performance, but means well. I think that’s also really nice to be remembered like that.”

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Charles Leclerc recalls the time he received a special thank you note from Vettel for all the work he was doing on the simulator at Ferrari’s headquarters.

“He’s been incredible. I remember already in F2, I was doing the simulator work, which okay it’s not easy work to do because it’s really, really tiring and I thought that Seb probably didn’t even know I was on the simulator and I received a letter one day just thanking me for all the hard work and that meant a lot for me at that time. But that was only a small thing,” said Leclerc.

“We became team-mates in 2019 and 2020, where he has taught me a lot of things. We’ve had our tense moments on track but the respect off the track has never changed.

“He’s always been there for me whenever I’ve had difficult times. That was very different to what I was used to with my previous teammates. Obviously in Formula One it’s normal there is inner competition inside the team but he’s always been super caring and trying to help me whenever I was going through more difficult times. He will definitely be missed.”

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Pierre Gasly, who drives for Red Bull’s junior team AlphaTauri but is moving to Alpine next season, is expecting an emotional weekend in the UAE capital and also sang Vettel’s praises.

“I think he’s been a great player and a great icon and figure for all of us F1 drivers. Personally for me he’s been a great help before I made it to Formula One when I was a reserve driver for Red Bull, I managed to get close to him and ask for some direction and some advice at the time. Definitely he’s going to be massively missed in the paddock,” said the 26-year-old Frenchman.

Alonso, who will take Vettel’s seat at Aston Martin next season, will be wearing a special helmet in Abu Dhabi that features a German flag stripe and the words, ‘Danke Seb’ on either side in honor of Vettel.

“It’s going to be strange to not have him next year in the first race,” said the 41-year-old Spaniard.

“We shared so many things over the last 15 years. Sometimes we fought for championships, sometimes for seventh place, even in Japan until finish line and we still always enjoyed every single battle and respect each other as much as we could.

“I think my career is going to be linked to Sebastian in a way, because we fought for many great things in the best seasons of our life probably. Even though it was on his side the outcome always, I think our names will be linked to other.”

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Knicks edge Celtics in overtime thriller, Doncic hurt in Mavs win

Knicks edge Celtics in overtime thriller, Doncic hurt in Mavs win
Updated 13 sec ago

Knicks edge Celtics in overtime thriller, Doncic hurt in Mavs win

Knicks edge Celtics in overtime thriller, Doncic hurt in Mavs win
  • Detroit Pistons, owners of the worst record in the Eastern Conference, sprung a surprise in Brooklyn, where Kyrie Irving’s 40 points weren’t enough for the Nets in a 130-122 defeat

LOS ANGELES: Julius Randle scored 37 points to lead the New York Knicks to a 120-117 overtime victory over the NBA-leading Boston Celtics on Thursday as the Dallas Mavericks held off Phoenix despite an injury to star guard Luka Doncic.

Randle added nine rebounds and Jalen Brunson scored 29 points with four rebounds, seven assists and a crucial block as time expired as the Knicks thwarted Boston’s comeback bid.

They handed the Celtics a third straight defeat on the heels of their nine-game winning streak.

Boston’s Jayson Tatum celebrated his selection as an All-Star starter with 35 points and 14 rebounds. Jaylen Brown scored 22 points with nine rebounds.

But Boston’s star duo also combined for six key turnovers, and Brown missed two free throws with 7.6 seconds remaining to hurt Boston’s cause.

“I’m a better basketball player than I played today,” a dejected Brown said. “Those two missed free throws kind of embodied the whole game for me — didn’t get it going, didn’t give my team enough energy to win.”

Randle, meanwhile, drained a pair of clutch free throws with 21.2 seconds left and RJ Barrett added another two foul shots before Brunson swatted away a potential game-tying three-pointer by Malcolm Brogdon as time ticked off in overtime.

“We’ve been in these games before,” Randle told broadcaster TNT after the Knicks squandered a late 12-point lead but managed to hang on.

“All year we’ve been in up and down games. We’ve lost those games at the end, we’ve won them at the end, so there’s a sense of being comfortable in those positions and knowing how to execute whether you’re up or down.”

Tatum scored 11 points in the fourth quarter, but he missed a potential game-winner and when teammate Robert Williams grabbed the rebound Boston’s Jericho Sims blocked his put-back attempt.

In Phoenix, Doncic — who came into the night leading the league in scoring — limped out with a sprained left ankle less than four minutes into the contest.

X-rays were negative, but he didn’t return, with Spencer Dinwiddie stepping up to fill the void with 36 points and nine assists.

The Mavs led the entire second half, but two driving layups from Chris Paul pulled the Suns within 96-95 with 19.7 seconds remaining.

Dwight Powell came up with a key rebound off teammate Reggie Bullock’s missed free throw and then made two free throws of his own as the Mavs put it away.

“No one ever panicked and we found a way to win a game,” said Mavs coach Jason Kidd, who did not have an immediate update on the severity of Doncic’s injury after the game.

The Detroit Pistons, owners of the worst record in the Eastern Conference, sprung a surprise in Brooklyn, where Kyrie Irving’s 40 points weren’t enough for the Nets in a 130-122 defeat.

Saddiq Bey scored 25 points to lead eight Pistons players in double figures — despite the absence of star guard Cade Cunningham, backup point guard Cory Joseph and center Marvin Bagley.

Alec Burks scored 20 points for the Pistons, who ended a four-game losing streak as they rebounded from an embarrassing loss to Milwaukee on Monday in which they gave up 150 points.

“We just knew we had to start off better than that and just play better throughout the four quarters,” Bey said. “I think we were very eager just to nip that one in the bud and just keep going.”

The Pistons capitalized on their size advantage against the short-handed Nets, who were again without star Kevin Durant and saw Ben Simmons depart early with a sore left knee.

In Charlotte, the Hornets celebrated LaMelo Ball’s return from a three-game injury absence with a 111-96 come-from-behind victory over the Chicago Bulls.

In Los Angeles, Paul George scored 35 points and Kawhi Leonard added 27 for the Clippers in a 138-100 wire-to-wire rout of the San Antonio Spurs.


Brazilian pair win Australian Open mixed doubles title

Brazilian pair win Australian Open mixed doubles title
Updated 27 January 2023

Brazilian pair win Australian Open mixed doubles title

Brazilian pair win Australian Open mixed doubles title
  • Stefani and Matos are undefeated as a team, having won all seven matches together at the United Cup and at Melbourne Park

MELBOURNE: The Brazilian pair of Luisa Stefani and Rafael Matos beat India’s Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna 7-6 (2), 6-2 on Friday to win the Australian Open mixed doubles title in Mirza’s last match at a Grand Slam tournament before she retires.

Mirza, who has won six Grand Slam doubles championships — three in mixed, including the 2009 Australian Open — will retire next month after a tournament in Dubai.

The Brazilian pair took a 3-0 lead in the tiebreaker and Mirza and Bopanna fought back to 3-2, but that was to be the last points the Indian duo took. They missed two overheads in a row, including Mirza’s shot into the net on set point.

Stefani and Matos broke Mirza’s serve in the fourth game of the second set to go up 3-1, with the break point coming after a lengthy exchange between the teams.

Stefani and Matos are undefeated as a team, having won all seven matches together at the United Cup and at Melbourne Park.
 


Ryder extends Farmers lead to 3, Rahm gets hot on windy day

Ryder extends Farmers lead to 3, Rahm gets hot on windy day
Updated 27 January 2023

Ryder extends Farmers lead to 3, Rahm gets hot on windy day

Ryder extends Farmers lead to 3, Rahm gets hot on windy day
  • Ryder survived both the Santa Ana wind and the tougher South Course with just one bogey to reach 12-under 132

SAN DIEGO: Sam Ryder extended his lead to three shots in the Farmers Insurance Open with a 4-under 68 in challenging wind in the second round Thursday on Torrey Pines’ South Course while Jon Rahm had an eagle and three straight birdies late in his 5-under 67 on the easier North Course to get under the cut line.

Ryder survived both the Santa Ana wind and the tougher South Course with just one bogey to reach 12-under 132 and take a three-stroke lead over Brendan Steele, who shot a 70 on the South Course. Tano Goya was two more shots back after a 67 on the North Course.

The Santa Ana wind blowing out of the desert and down the mountains raked the course most of the day, with gusts up to 30 mph. It sent leaves, branches and even a tumbleweed onto greens, and cardboard trash cans tumbling down hillsides.

“Yesterday was very easy, today was very hard,” said Rahm, who took his first tour win here in 2017 and then won the 2021 US Open on the blufftop municipal course overlooking the Pacific Ocean. “It’s never easy out here on either one of the courses, especially the South, and when you get poa annua bumpy greens with this wind, it can be a bit of a nightmare, so glad I made a few.”

Rahm, ranked No. 3 in the world and looking to win for the third time three starts this year, rebounded from an opening 73 on the South Course by getting hot on his back nine. He eagled the par-5 fifth and then had three straight birdies. He had another eagle chance on the par-4 seventh but his long putt caught the left edge and skidded about a foot away.

After his frustrating opening round, “anything in the 60s would have been amazing,” Rahm said. “What I shot today, man, I’m going to be skipping out of the golf course today because it’s a great round of golf.”

Rahm, who won The American Express last weekend, started on the back nine and opened with consecutive birdies but bogeyed his third and ninth holes. He was even going into the par-5 fifth, when he started his run with an eagle.

“Holes five through nine, with or without wind is where you can take advantage of the course,” the Spanish star said. “Luckily, I’ve been hitting it really good. There’s no difference between those holes or any other five, four holes you can pick throughout the round, it’s just kind of guessed with the wind right in all of them. I think maybe I was a little more aggressive after that second shot on 6 and got in the mentality of making birdies instead of being a little tentative, which is easy to do when it’s blowing as hard as it was blowing today.”

Rahm, who went from tied for 116th on Wednesday to tied for 14th, said the cut line never came to mind.

“I was playing with the mindset of catching up to the leaders as much as possible, that’s it.”

Ryder, a 33-year-old who has never won on the PGA Tour, opened some distance after sharing the first-round lead with Aaron Rai and Brent Grant. Grant was in a group of six at 6 under.

“Yeah, it feels great. The thing I’ve been kind of telling myself is to just try and embrace it,” Ryder said. “It’s not a position that I’ve been in a lot, you know, so just trying to enjoy it. It’s kind of why we play, so just trying to look around and enjoy the moment.

“And I’m just doing everything pretty solid. It starts off the tee for me, I’m driving it well. My iron play is really good, so I feel like if I put it in the fairway, I can attack. And I don’t think I really missed many shots today. I missed a couple fairways, but the irons have been really good.”

Will Zalatoris, ranked No. 7 in the world, missed the cut after shooting 5-over 77 on the South Course.

The final two rounds will be on the South Course.


Djokovic wary of semifinal underdog Tommy Paul in quest for 22nd Slam title

Djokovic wary of semifinal underdog Tommy Paul in quest for 22nd Slam title
Updated 27 January 2023

Djokovic wary of semifinal underdog Tommy Paul in quest for 22nd Slam title

Djokovic wary of semifinal underdog Tommy Paul in quest for 22nd Slam title
  • The 25-year-old Paul, ranked 35th, is a surprise semifinalist, making this far at a major for the first time on the 14th attempt
  • Tsitsipas aims to snap a run of three semifinal losses in Melbourne as he meets Khachanov in the other last-four showdown

MELBOURNE: Novak Djokovic has won all nine of his Australian Open semifinals and is not ready to let Tommy Paul ruin his unblemished record on Friday as he closes in on a 22nd Grand Slam crown.
The Serb, who won his first Slam at Melbourne Park in 2008, struggled physically in the early rounds this year with a hamstring injury.
But straight-sets thrashings of Alex de Minaur and Andrey Rublev for the loss of just 12 games ominously signalled that the favorite is back to his best for the semifinals.
Should he beat the unseeded American Paul on Rod Laver Arena, he will face either third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas or Russian 18th seed Karen Khachanov as a final roadblock to a 10th Australian Open title on Sunday.
Djokovic has extra motivation to go all the way and equal Rafael Nadal’s 22nd Grand Slam crowns after missing last year’s event when he was deported over his Covid vaccination stance. In his absence the Spanish great won.
“I always try to give my best, particularly in Grand Slams, because at this stage of my career those are the tournaments that count the most,” said the 35-year-old.
“But you could say that there is something extra this year. You could say because, yeah, the injury, what happened last year, I just wanted to really do well.
“So far I have a perfect score in Australian hard courts, in Adelaide (which he won) and here. I’ve been playing better and better. I couldn’t ask for a better situation to be in at the moment.”
With Djokovic on a 26-match win streak at the Australian Open — equalling Andre Agassi’s Open-era record at the first Grand Slam of the year — the 35th-ranked Paul is a heavy underdog.
The 25-year-old is a surprise semifinalist, making this far at a major for the first time on the 14th attempt.
“We never played a match against each other. Obviously he’s pretty comfortable here in Australia,” Paul said.
“It’s going to be a challenging match, but I’m playing some of my best tennis, so it’s a good time.”
Djokovic said he had been monitoring the American and would not underestimate the challenge.
“He’s been playing probably the tennis of his life,” he said. “Very explosive, very dynamic player. I think he can hit all the spots with the serve. Very complete player.
“First semifinals for him, so of course he doesn’t have much to lose.”

Tsitsipas versus Khachanov
Tsitsipas meets Khachanov in the other last-four showdown on Friday, aiming to snap a run of three semifinal losses in Melbourne, including over the past two years.
Now 24, he believes he has matured and that this could finally be his year as he bids to become the youngest champion since Djokovic won the title in 2011 aged 23.
“I’m feeling great with my tennis. I don’t think I felt so good in a long time,” the Greek said.
“I’ve said it — I’m a different player (from the past), playing different. My mentality is different.”
He has won all five previous encounters with Khachanov, most recently at the Rome Masters last year, and said he was eager to face the Russian again.
“It’s a match that I’m looking forward to,” he said. “I’m looking ahead for more, for better. Looking to create some magical experiences here in Australia.”
The 26-year-old Russian also made the semifinals at September’s US Open.
He has now made the quarters or better at all four Grand Slams and will draw on the experience when he plays the Greek star.
“I think the first semifinals, which I did in US Open, that gave me an extra boost and extra confidence to show where I really am, and what I can do when I’m at my best,” he said.
“I think all those things together, they push me to where I am right now.”

 


Sabalenka, Rybakina march into Australian Open final showdown

Sabalenka, Rybakina march into Australian Open final showdown
Updated 27 January 2023

Sabalenka, Rybakina march into Australian Open final showdown

Sabalenka, Rybakina march into Australian Open final showdown
  • Wimbledon champion Rybakina of Kazakhstan defeated two-time Melbourne winner Victoria Azarenka of Belarus on Thursday
  • Belarusian Sabalenka marched into the championship match with a 7-6 (7/1), 6-2 win over Magda Linette of Poland

MELBOURNE: Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina will clash in Saturday’s Australian Open women’s final after both won in straight sets in the last four in Melbourne.
Wimbledon champion Rybakina defeated two-time Melbourne winner Victoria Azarenka 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 at a blustery and chilly Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne on Thursday.
Belarusian Sabalenka then marched into the championship match with a 7-6 (7/1), 6-2 win over Magda Linette.
The 24-year-old Sabalenka will be a slight favorite to win the title, for what would be her first major crown, and promises to be a bruising showdown between two hard-hitters.
“I’m super happy, super happy that I was able to get this win,” said the fifth seed after reaching her first Grand Slam final.
“Magda’s an unbelievable player. She played really great tennis.”
Sabalenka has been in the form of her life since arriving in Australia.
She won the Adelaide International warm-up tournament and has now extended her unbeaten streak to 10 matches, not losing a single set in any of them.
But it was Poland’s Linette, contesting her first major semifinal aged 30, who was out of the gate fastest, breaking to love in the opening game and holding for an early lead.
Sabalenka was being made to work hard and showed all her new-found patience to get back on terms with a break of her own, to love, for 2-2 and the set went to a tiebreak.
Sabalenka timed her moment perfectly to up the aggression, and the decibel level, racing to 4-0 with a scream.
An ace that barely clipped the line stretched it to 5-0 and she closed out comfortably after 51 minutes, having smacked 20 winners to just seven from Linette.
“I would say that I didn’t start really well,” admitted Sabalenka.
“And then on the tiebreak I kind of found my rhythm and just started trusting myself, started going for the shots. It was great tennis from me in the tiebreak.”
Sabalenka showed no sign of letting up in the second set, breaking Linette and with a scream of “Come on!” holding for a 3-1 advantage.
A second break took her within sight of the finish line, which she raced across in 1hr 33min.

Rybakina, 23, said she hoped she had made her watching family proud after another impressive display.
The Moscow-born Kazakh prevailed in 1hr 41min against the 2012 and 2013 champion Azarenka of Belarus to account for a third major winner in as many matches.
The 22nd seed Rybakina had already defeated reigning French and US Open champion Iga Swiatek in the fourth round and 2017 Roland Garros winner Jelena Ostapenko in the quarter-finals.
Rybakina said her semifinal triumph was even more special because she had her sister and parents all watching at Melbourne Park for the first time.
“I’m super happy that we can spend evenings together and they can watch me live,” said Rybakina, whose parents were not there to see her win Wimbledon last year.
“For sure it’s great for them. I didn’t even talk with them yet. I’m sure they’re happy. They don’t see me often playing live, so I think this time, it’s a big result already.
“No matter how I play in the final, I think they’re very proud and happy.”
Azarenka, 33, was left to rue missed opportunities as her dream of a third Australian Open crown dissolved.
“Right now especially it’s kind of hard to digest,” she said.
“I’m proud of myself how I fought and I tried.
“Tennis-wise I felt like I just wasn’t there, especially in the important moments when I kept creating those opportunities for me. Just couldn’t convert them.”