Bad weather and a plucky Australian driver threatened to rain on Mercedes’ parade at the Australian Grand Prix yesterday, but Lewis Hamilton’s last-gasp pole kept the Silver Arrows on top for today’s race.
A topsy-turvy day of howling gales, rain squalls and crashes came to a head in the final seconds of qualifying, with Red Bull’s new boy Daniel Ricciardo all but stealing pole from under the favorites’ nose.
With the session wound up, 2008 world champion Hamilton roared home in a frenetic finish to wrest back first spot on the Albert Park grid. Ricciardo qualified second for his home race.
“It’s been an interesting weekend,” Hamilton told reporters with marked understatement.
“The conditions made it extremely difficult. There was so much more power, so much more wheelspin,” he said.
“Great fun otherwise, and I hope that the weather’s better tomorrow, mostly for the fans, but also for us,” the 29-year-old Briton added. “These new cars are a lot harder to drive in the wet, and it was the first time for me driving [this year’s car] in the wet... So, serious task and challenge today, but for both me and Nico [Rosberg] to be up here is a great story for the team.”
Mercedes arrived Down Under quietly confident after a promising winter testing in which they appeared far more comfortable with the intricacies of the new turbocharged hybrid engines than their rivals.
All that appeared an illusion as Hamilton’s first foray in Friday practice ended in seconds when his car came to a complete stop due to an oil pressure sensor failure.
However, Hamilton hit back to top the timesheets in the second session, before German teammate Rosberg underlined Mercedes’ dominance in the final practice yesterday by topping the timesheets nearly 1.5 seconds clear of McLaren’s Jenson Button.
Hamilton’s pole was his 32nd, matching Nigel Mansell’s British record.
“One of the greatest British drivers we had,” Hamilton said of the Englishman, who won a world championship with Williams in 1992. “To be in Formula One has always been my dream, but to get as many poles as him is an incredible achievement. I really owe that to all the great people I worked with throughout my career. I wouldn’t be able to put in all those laps without all those people helping me.”
Mercedes are a second quicker in pace to the rest, Button said, and some scattered showers forecast for today are unlikely to prove much of a roadblock.
However, fuel consumption is expected to prove more of a lottery, as drivers battle to conserve their quota of 100kg of petrol, in a new rule for race day.
“Of course, it’s going to be a completely different story again from today,” said Rosberg, who will start third.
“I think more likely it’s going to be dry and it’ll be totally different because this year, especially Melbourne, it’s the most difficult track for fuel consumption. So it’s going to be difficult tomorrow to save enough fuel for the race,” Rosberg said.
‘CRIMINAL ACT’: The UCI said it ‘strongly condemns’ Dylan Groenewegen’s ‘dangerous behavior,’ which left Jakobsen in critical condition and injured other cyclists Dutch cyclist Fabio Jakobsen was in a coma on Wednesday, in “serious” condition, after he was thrown into and over a barrier at 80kph in the conclusion to the opening stage of the Tour de Pologne. Footage showed 23-year-old Jakobsen, of the Deceuninck-Quick-Step, racing elbow-to-elbow with fellow Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen of Jumbo-Visma as both men frantically tussled in a tight sprint to the line in Katowice. However, Jakobsen came off worst, somersaulting over the barriers before colliding with a photographer after Groenewegen had veered suddenly to the right, squeezing his rival into the security wall. “His condition is very serious. His life is
WEEKEND MATCHES: While Tatung FC made good on their chances early on, Taiwan Steel rallied to win the game 2-3 and move to the top with Taichung Futuro Sunday’s action saw Taichung Futuro, Taipower FC and Taiwan Steel tied for first place on 30 points in the Taiwan Football Premier League, while Hang Yuan FC picked up a point to take the No. 4 spot on 25 points after holding Taipower to a scoreless draw. In Taoyuan, Tatung FC hosted Taiwan Steel. It was an exciting matchup, as the visitors rallied from 2-0 down to take the game with three goals. Tatung made good on their chances early on. Honduran midfielder Elias Argueta opened the account 15 minutes into the game with a low shot from the right. Three minutes
Ronnie O’Sullivan delivered a scathing attack on the next generation of snooker players after he made the quarter-finals of the World Snooker Championship on Sunday, ending Chinese star Ding Junhui’s world championship dream. The mercurial 44-year-old Englishman won an enthralling high-quality second-round encounter 13-10 to set up a quarter-final clash with three-time champion Mark Williams. When asked by the BBC whether he thought he would remain at the top of the game for this long, the Briton, who turned professional in 1992, said the poor quality of younger players had secured his position and that something drastic would have to happen
Max Verstappen informed his Red Bull team that he would not be driving “like a grandma” in Formula One’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix on Sunday — and he was as good as his word. The Dutch 22-year-old seized his opportunity at Silverstone, ending dominant Mercedes’ run of four successive wins this season and moving up to second place overall, 30 points behind leader Lewis Hamilton. Verstappen’s confidence shone through early on, after slotting into third place behind the two Mercedes, when he was told by race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase to take care of his tires. “Mate, this is the only chance of being