Max Verstappen claims pole for Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands steers his car during the qualifying session ahead of the Formula One Saudi Arabian Grand Prix at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in Jeddah. (AP)
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands steers his car during the qualifying session ahead of the Formula One Saudi Arabian Grand Prix at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in Jeddah. (AP)
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Updated 08 March 2024
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Max Verstappen claims pole for Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Max Verstappen claims pole for Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
  • Red Bull’s three-time world champion is joined on the front row of Saturday’s race by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc

JEDDAH: Max Verstappen shut out all the distractions surrounding his troubled Red Bull team to take pole position on Friday for Saturday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
The three-time world champion clocked a fastest lap of one minute 27.472 seconds to outpace Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc by three-tenths of a second with his team-mate Sergio Perez, who had been on pole for the last two years, third in a tense floodlit qualifying session.
It was Verstappen’s 34th pole position and his first at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, but the day’s action was lit up by the performance of British teenager Oliver Bearman who qualified 11th for Ferrari on his competitive F1 debut.
The 18-year-old was dramatically called up earlier in the day to replace appendicitis-victim Carlos Sainz.
Fernando Alonso was a bold fourth for Aston Martin ahead of McLaren’s Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris and the two Mercedes of George Russell and seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton.
Yuki Tsunoda was ninth for RB ahead of Lance Stroll of Aston Martin and Bearman.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity,” said 18-year-old Bearman. “It was a fun day.”
Verstappen, who won from fourth on the grid last year, was also happy.
“It was a very good day,” said the Dutchman who swept to victory in last weekend’s season-opener in Bahrain.
“We improved the car a little bit overnight and that gave me more confidence to attack the high-speed corners.”
Leclerc said: “I put everything together for that lap. I hope Carlos can recover quickly, but on Ollie’s side he has done an incredible job after just one session and he was straight up to speed. I am happy for him.”
Bearman, who had only made his Ferrari debut hours earlier in final practice, was one of the first on track when the lights went green.
Sainz, who remarkably drove in both of Thursday’s practice sessions, underwent surgery on Friday morning, hoping to recover in time for the Australian Grand Prix on March 24.
Between the sessions, Audi confirmed their takeover of the Sauber team ahead of a 2026 entry, news that cheered the Swiss team, after Zhou Guanyu’s heavy late crash in third practice.
Kevin Magnussen set an early Q1 marker lap for Haas before Alonso and then Verstappen, after 10 minutes, set the pace, with Bearman holding his own in eighth place, half-a-second adrift.
At this stage, Mercedes were switching from mediums to softs while Zhou, his car still being repaired, remained absent until emerging with two minutes remaining to join a frantic Q1 finale.
Unfortunately, for the Chinese driver, he did not make it to the line before the chequered flag and failed to record a lap time, joining Williams’ Logan Sargeant, Alpine’s Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon and Valtteri Bottas in the other Sauber in elimination.
The Q2 session was red-flagged after six minutes when Nico Hulkenberg’s Haas suffered a power failure. He parked at Turn Eight on the edge of a run-off area from which his car was rescued.
At the re-start, Bearman on fresh softs led the two Mercedes, on used softs, out, the teenager locking up and ruining his first flying lap before Perez and then Verstappen took the initiative for Red Bull until split by Alonso.
The champion, seeking his first front row start at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, clocked 1:28.078, giving him an advantage of just 0.044 on Alonso ahead of the final runs which saw Bearman finish 11th, just 0.036 adrift of Hamilton.
He was eliminated along with Williams’ Alex Albon, Magnussen, RB’s Daniel Ricciardo and the luckless Hulkenberg, no disgrace on a debut day with F1’s most famous and illustrious team.
“That was a messy session,” said Bearman, who had ‘kissed’ the barriers in one section, on Ferrari team radio.
His expected place in the top-ten shootout was taken by Tsunoda of RB, the disruptor among the regulars, as Russell set the pace before being beaten by the Red Bulls, Perez taking top spot before Verstappen swept through in 1:27.472, three-tenths ahead with Alonso third.


Mavericks humble Celtics 122-84 to stay alive in NBA Finals

Mavericks humble Celtics 122-84 to stay alive in NBA Finals
Updated 23 sec ago
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Mavericks humble Celtics 122-84 to stay alive in NBA Finals

Mavericks humble Celtics 122-84 to stay alive in NBA Finals
  • Luka Doncic scored 25 of his 29 points in the first half and Kyrie Irving added 21 for the Mavs
  • Dallas will try to stop the Celtics from celebrating an 18th title when they travel to Boston for game five
LOS ANGELES: Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks dominated Boston 122-84 on Friday to fend off elimination in the NBA Finals, denying the Celtics a sweep in the best-of-seven championship series.
Doncic scored 25 of his 29 points in the first half and Kyrie Irving added 21 for the Mavs, who snapped the Celtics’ 10-game playoff winning streak but still have a mountain to climb as they try to become the first team to rally from a 3-0 deficit to win an NBA playoff series.
Now down 3-1, Dallas will try to stop the Celtics from celebrating an 18th title when they travel to Boston for game five on Monday.
“Like I said at the beginning of the series, it’s first to four,” Doncic said. “We’re going to believe until the end.
“I have big belief in this team that we can do it, so we’ve just got to keep believing.”
Doncic, roundly criticized after game three when he fouled out with more than four minutes left and could only watch as the Mavs’ comeback bid fell short, was dialed in on the defensive end as Dallas held the Celtics to 36.2 percent shooting.
Boston star Jayson Tatum scored 15 points and Jaylen Brown had just 10 as the Mavs posted the third-largest margin of victory in NBA Finals history.
“Thought they played with a ton of energy and physicality,” Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said of the Mavericks. “And they are a great team, that’s the reason why they are here when they play like that.”
Tim Hardaway Jr. added 15 points off the bench for Dallas and 20-year-old rookie Dereck Lively added 11 — including his first career three-pointer — as the Mavs topped 100 points for the first time in the series.
Dallas handed Boston their first road defeat of these playoffs and ended their bid for the 10th 4-0 sweep in Finals history.
With Doncic and Irving leading the way, Dallas built a 34-21 first-quarter lead — the Mavs’ highest-scoring quarter of the series.
There was no let-up in the second, the Mavs dominating every facet of the game on the way to a 61-35 halftime lead.
Lively electrified the crowd at American Airlines Center with his three-pointer, followed by an alley-oop dunk on the next possession in the first period.
“I think our energy was way higher,” Doncic said. “Everybody was locked in (on the) defensive end.”
The Celtics, harried at every turn, made 14 of their 41 three-point attempts. They were out-scored 60-26 in the paint and out-rebounded 52-31 — Dallas’ dominance on the boards leading to a 16-2 edge in second-chance points.
“They did a great job flying around, making indecision on whether to shoot it or drive and their multiple efforts,” Mazzulla said. “And I thought their five men did a great job protecting the paint. Whenever we went in for a layup, they had multiple guys contesting.”
Doncic said it was the prospect of elimination more than criticism of defense that had him stepping up the intensity, forgoing his usual complaints to officials and letting his game speak for him.
Stripped by Jrue Holiday on a drive to the basket, Doncic dived for the loose ball and swatted it to Irving, who played it back to him for a layup.
Fouled on the play, Doncic made the free throw to put Dallas up 43-25 midway through the second quarter.
Mavs coach Jason Kidd — and Mazzulla — said Doncic was just his normal MVP-candidate self.
“There was not a different Luka out there,” Kidd said. “He’s great, he’s been great, he’s one of the best players in the world, as much as we want to criticize him, he’s a hell of a player.”
The Mavs were up 92-57 when Doncic and Irving checked out of the game to a standing ovation with 1:29 left in the third quarter, Irving offering Doncic a congratulatory embrace on the bench.
Mazzulla had already pulled his starters by then, their attention already turning to game five and their next chance to break out of a tie with the Los Angeles Lakers for most NBA titles.

Host Germany gives Euro 2024 liftoff by outclassing 10-man Scotland 5-1

Host Germany gives Euro 2024 liftoff by outclassing 10-man Scotland 5-1
Updated 15 June 2024
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Host Germany gives Euro 2024 liftoff by outclassing 10-man Scotland 5-1

Host Germany gives Euro 2024 liftoff by outclassing 10-man Scotland 5-1

US cricket team advances to second round in Twenty20 World Cup debut at Pakistan’s expense

US cricket team advances to second round in Twenty20 World Cup debut at Pakistan’s expense
Updated 15 June 2024
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US cricket team advances to second round in Twenty20 World Cup debut at Pakistan’s expense

US cricket team advances to second round in Twenty20 World Cup debut at Pakistan’s expense

LAUDERHILL, Florida: The United States cricket team made more history by reaching the second round in its Twenty20 World Cup debut after its last group game against Ireland was washed out on Friday.
Rain meant the match at Broward County Stadium was abandoned without a ball bowled, advancing the Americans to the Super Eight stage and automatically qualifying them for the 2026 Twenty20 World Cup in India and Sri Lanka.
The US qualified for this T20 World Cup only as a co-host with the West Indies, but it has used home advantage to make a stunning first impression in its first major cricket tournament.
While the Americans progressed alongside unbeaten India from Group A, former champion Pakistan and winless Ireland were eliminated from Super Eight contention.
Pakistan won the title in 2009 and reached two more finals, including at the last T20 World Cup in 2022. Pakistan has failed to get out of the group stage for the first time. Ireland was expected to be a threat, too. The Irish also reached the second round on debut in 2009 and repeated in 2022.
The competition point from the washout was enough for the US to advance after beating Canada in Texas and stunning Pakistan in Texas during the first week.
Tying Pakistan in regular overs then beating it in a super over was one of the greatest upsets in the tournament’s history.
The Americans were thumped by India, one of the title favorites, as expected on Wednesday but the hosts’ progression without being able to play on Friday was still well deserved.
The umpires made four inspections of the wet outfield before heavy rain arrived at around 1:30 p.m. local time and the match was called off three hours after its scheduled start.
The 17th-ranked US joined the West Indies, India, Australia, South Africa and Afghanistan in the Super Eight, with two more teams yet to qualify. The Super Eight starting on Wednesday splits into two groups, with each team guaranteed three games to try and reach the semifinals.
Nepal wins toss
At Kingstown, St. Vincent, Nepal won the toss and chose to bowl in its later match against Group D leaders South Africa, the first international match between the teams.
South Africa already has qualified for the Super Eight stage after winning its first three matches against the Netherlands, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. South Africa’s first match in the Super Eight playoffs is next Wednesday against the US in Antigua.
Nepal lost to the Netherlands in its opening match and its second match against Sri Lanka was rained out, meaning this will be its first game in 10 days. It is also the first match at the tournament to be played in St. Vincent.
Nepal captain Rauhit Praudel said he elected to bowl first to take advantage of easier batting conditions in the second innings. Proteas captain Aiden Markram said he would have chosen to bat first.
For the first time at the tournament, Nepal has been able to select its leading player Sandeep Lamichhane. Lamichhane was convicted of rape in January and sentenced to eight years in jail. But his conviction was overturned in May by the Nepal High Court.
His application for a visa to travel with the Nepal squad to the United States was rejected. But he has been able to join the team in St. Vincent, bringing the Nepal squad up to its full complement of 15 players in the Caribbean.
New Zealand bowls first
At Tarouba, Trinidad, New Zealand won the toss and chose to bowl in a Group C match against Uganda. The West Indies and Bangladesh already have taken the two Super Eight qualifying spots available from the group.
New Zealand lost its first two matches at the tournament to Bangladesh and the West Indies and can no longer qualify. It sits at the bottom of the group behind Uganda which has two points from a win over Papua New Guinea.
New Zealand’s failure at this tournament ends a run of success at white ball World Cups. It has reached at least the semifinals of the last six white-ball world tournaments over the last decade.


Berlin fan zone reaches capacity amid Euro fever

Berlin fan zone reaches capacity amid Euro fever
Updated 14 June 2024
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Berlin fan zone reaches capacity amid Euro fever

Berlin fan zone reaches capacity amid Euro fever
  • Hundreds of thousands of Berliners flocked to the iconic gate in downtown Berlin to watch the match
  • Berlin police said an hour before kick-off “the fan zone at Brandenburg Gate has reached its capacity”

BERLIN: A fan zone at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate was filled to capacity ahead of the Euro 2024 opening game between Germany and Scotland on Friday, with police saying the venue could hold no more people and the local underground station was also closed.
Hundreds of thousands of Berliners flocked to the iconic gate in downtown Berlin to watch the match on big screens and 90 minutes before kick-off fans could be seen running and jostling with stewards and security personnel as they tried to enter.
Berlin police announced on social media site X around an hour before kick-off that “the fan zone at Brandenburg Gate has reached its capacity. No more fans will be allowed in.”
Police later said on X that the nearby train station was also closed, though trains would continue to run through it.
Earlier in the evening, an area at a nearby fan zone near the German parliament was cordoned off due to a suspect device.


Esports World Cup adds ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III’ and ‘Call of Duty: Warzone’ competitions

Esports World Cup adds ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III’ and ‘Call of Duty: Warzone’ competitions
Updated 14 June 2024
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Esports World Cup adds ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III’ and ‘Call of Duty: Warzone’ competitions

Esports World Cup adds ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III’ and ‘Call of Duty: Warzone’ competitions
  • EWC schedule consists of 22 competitions across 21 games, making it the largest multi-game e-sports tournament of all time
  • Federation CEO says World Cup ‘cemented our promise to deliver the world’s best games’

RIYADH: The Esports World Cup Foundation said on Friday that “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III” and “Call of Duty: Warzone” had been added to the games that will be part of the inaugural Esports World Cup this summer in Riyadh.
The EWC schedule consists of 22 competitions across 21 games, making it the largest multi-game e-sports tournament of all time.
EWCF’s CEO Ralf Reichert said: “By adding two amazing ‘Call of Duty’ games to EWC, we have cemented our promise to deliver the world’s best games to e-sports fans everywhere.
“‘Call of Duty’ is the final piece of our historic EWC 2024 schedule, and we are excited to welcome its athletes and global fanbase to Riyadh this summer.”
Since its original launch in 2003, the “Call of Duty” franchise has remained one of the world’s most popular video games. “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III” is one of the best-selling video games of 2023 in the US.
Published in March 2020, “Call of Duty: Warzone” found instant success as the franchise’s first entry into the battle royale genre. Both games feature robust e-sports ecosystems that engage fans in a variety of formats ranging from league-based play to open circuit competitions.
EWC will also host competitions in “Apex Legends,” “Counter-Strike 2,” “Dota 2,” “EA Sports FC 24,” “Fortnite,” “Free Fire,” “Honor of Kings,” “League of Legends,” “Mobile Legends: Bang Bang,” “Overwatch 2,” “PUBG Battlegrounds,” “PUBG Mobile,” “ESL R1,” “Rocket League,” “StarCraft II,” “Street Fighter 6,” “Teamfight Tactics,” “TEKKEN 8” and “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow 6 Siege.”
Each of the championships at EWC will have its own prize pool with a combined total exceeding $33 million. By adding these two games, the EWCF has created additional opportunities for additional athletes to participate at the event and earn a piece of life-changing winnings.
During the tournament, the “Call of Duty: Warzone” competition, running Jul. 3-6, will feature 21 teams battling for a share of a $1 million prize pool, and the “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III” competition, Aug. 15-18, will have 16 teams vying for a $1.8 million prize pool.
Results in both competitions contribute points to the overall Club Championship rankings, an innovative cross-game competitive format unique to the EWC.
Winners of at least one EWC game competition become eligible for the Club Championship’s top prize of $7 million (out of a $20 million pool to the top 16 clubs) and the prestigious title of Esports World Cup Club champion.