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Hamilton wins to take title battle down to the wire | Reuters

Hamilton wins to take title battle down to the wire | Reuters

Updated: Nov 13, 2016 19:34 IST

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SAO PAULO Triple world champion Lewis Hamilton won a stop-start, wet and chaotic Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday to take his Formula One title battle with Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg down to the wire in Abu Dhabi.The Briton’s third win in a row from pole position and first in Brazil left him 12 points behind Rosberg, who finished second, with the pair both on nine victories each for the season.Rosberg need now only finish third in two weeks’ time to clinch his first title, even if Hamilton wins again.

In a crash-filled thriller that was twice stopped and re-started, with five safety car periods and lengthy delays, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finished third with a sensational performance in the wet.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Nov 13, 2016 19:34 IST

Mercedes in turmoil after Hamilton and Rosberg collide | Reuters

BARCELONA Formula One championship leader Nico Rosberg’s hopes of an eighth win in a row disappeared on Sunday after a collision with Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton on the opening lap of the Spanish Grand Prix.

Britain’s triple world champion Hamilton had started on pole position, with Rosberg alongside on the front row at the Circuit de Catalunya.

The German, aiming to make it five successive wins for the season, passed Hamilton around the outside of turn one and the Briton was then squeezed on to the grass as he tried to regain the lead at turn three.

His car skewed sideways and smashed into Rosberg’s, with both drivers ending up in the gravel and the safety car deployed.

Watching Daimler chief executive Dieter Zetsche shook his head in dismay, while Hamilton threw his steering wheel out of the car.

The pair returned to the paddock on scooters and trudged up the stairs for a debrief with Mercedes team bosses, motorsport head Toto Wolff hot on their heels. The drivers were also summoned to see the stewards after the race.

The team’s non-executive chairman Niki Lauda, a triple world champion himself, blamed Hamilton before going to see the drivers.

“It is stupid, we could’ve won this race,” the Austrian told the BBC. “Lewis is too aggressive. I need to talk to them and hear their explanation and then we will see what happens.”

Wolff, who has had to bang heads together before now, was more cautious than his compatriot.

“Niki has a driver’s opinion and it’s fair enough. As a driver you see it in black and white,” he said.

“From a team’s perspective we’ve looked at the pictures and the data and it’s not clear cut. Nico had a really good turn one and turn two, Lewis tried to dive in, Nico closed the door.

“I’d say let’s wait and see what the stewards say. It’s not a situation where you can attribute 100 percent of the blame.”

Rosberg still has a comfortable lead in the championship standings, being 43 points clear of closest rival Hamilton before Sunday’s race.

However, the collision ended Mercedes hopes of extending the team’s winning run to 11 races and equalling McLaren’s 1988 record streak of success.

Only one driver in the modern era has won eight consecutive races — Germany’s Sebastian Vettel, with nine in a row in 2013 for Red Bull — but Rosberg had hopes of continuing his run after winning at the circuit last year.

Victory would also have made him only the third F1 driver after compatriot Michael Schumacher and Britain’s Nigel Mansell to win the first five races of a season.

(Editing by Clare Fallon)

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Verstappen makes F1 history as Mercedes crash out | Reuters

BARCELONA Dutch teenager Max Verstappen made Formula One history as the youngest race winner on Sunday in a sensational Spanish Grand Prix that saw dominant Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg collide and crash out on the opening lap.

Verstappen, only 18 and making his debut for the former world champions after being promoted from junior team Toro Rosso a week earlier, beat Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen — at 36 twice his age — by 0.616 seconds.

Verstappen was also the youngest driver to stand on the podium and the first Dutch race winner since the championship started in 1950.

His proud father Jos, who was twice on the podium with Benetton as Michael Schumacher’s team mate in 1994 and raced against Raikkonen later in his career, declared it the best day of his life.

“This is really something unbelievably special,” he told reporters while others acclaimed an exceptional talent.

Four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel, the previous youngest race winner thanks to his astonishing 2008 Italian Grand Prix victory for Toro Rosso at the age of 21, was third for Ferrari.

Rosberg had his lead trimmed to 39 points, with Raikkonen moving up to second ahead of Hamilton.

The German’s dream of an eighth successive win, and fifth of the season, had disappeared in the gravel on the opening lap as he and reigning champion Hamilton crashed out while battling for the lead.

That looked like being the talking point of the day at a circuit that has seen processional races in the past, until Verstappen rewrote the script.

His was a remarkably assured performance for a youngster who could not drive on public roads until last year and whose precocious entry into the sport was questioned by many.

“I was targeting a podium but to win straight away is an amazing feeling,” said Verstappen, who had qualified fourth with Australian team mate Daniel Ricciardo third.

Ricciardo might have joined him on the podium but a late puncture left him fourth.

UNBELIEVABLE JOB

“I can’t ever remember seeing a debut performance like that,” gushed Red Bull team principal Christian Horners, with the energy drink brand’s billionaire owner Dietrich Mateschitz also in attendance.

“The kid’s just done an unbelievable job. Max hasn’t put a wheel wrong all weekend. To win the race, I don’t think anyone can have dreamed of that.”

Verstappen soaked up the moment, lingering on the podium after the Ferrari drivers had gone and holding the winner’s trophy aloft.

While Red Bull celebrated, and Ferrari rescued a race that had looked like being one to forget after Raikkonen and Vettel qualified fifth and sixth, dominant champions Mercedes were licking their self-inflicted wounds.

Triple world champion Hamilton had started on pole position, with Rosberg alongside, but their race imploded after three corners.

The German passed Hamilton around the outside of turn one and the Briton was then squeezed on to the grass as he tried to regain the lead.

His car skewed sideways and smashed into Rosberg’s, with both drivers ending up in the gravel and the safety car deployed.

“It is stupid, we could have won this race,” Mercedes’ non-executive chairman Niki Lauda told the BBC. “Lewis is too aggressive. I need to talk to them and hear their explanation and then we will see what happens.”

Mercedes motorsport director Toto Wolff refused to apportion blame, however.

“From a team’s perspective we’ve looked at the pictures and the data and it’s not clear cut. Nico had a really good turn one and turn two, Lewis tried to dive in, Nico closed the door.

“I’d say let’s wait and see what the stewards say. It’s not a situation where you can attribute 100 percent of the blame.”

The collision ended Mercedes hopes of extending the team’s winning run to 11 races and equalling McLaren’s 1988 record streak of success.

Finland’s Valtteri Bottas was fifth for Williams with Spaniard Carlos Sainz sixth for Toro Rosso. Mexican Sergio Perez was seventh for Force India and Brazilian Felipe Massa eighth for Williams.

Britain’s Jenson Button scored for McLaren in ninth with Russian Daniil Kvyat, the man who had to cede his Red Bull place to Verstappen, 10th for Toro Rosso.

(Editing by Clare Fallon)

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Rosberg makes it seven wins in a row | Reuters

SOCHI, Russia Formula One championship leader Nico Rosberg chalked up his seventh win in a row at the Russian Grand Prix on Sunday with team mate Lewis Hamilton fighting back from 10th on the grid to seal a Mercedes one-two finish.

In a race that started with chaos, and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel being shunted into the wall by Red Bull’s Russian Daniil Kvyat, Rosberg had an untroubled afternoon from pole to chequered flag for his 18th career win.

The German equalled the achievement of compatriot Michael Schumacher in winning seven successive races, with only Vettel (nine in 2013 with Red Bull) and the late Italian Alberto Ascari ahead of them.

Only champions Schumacher, Britain’s Nigel Mansell and Brazilian Ayrton Senna had won the first four races in a season before Rosberg joined them.

“It felt very special out there,” said the happy winner, who led all the way and also set the fastest lap, after being congratulated by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Triple world champion Hamilton was 25 seconds behind Rosberg with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen finishing third after winning a battle with fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas, who started on the front row, in the Williams.

The podium was Ferrari’s 700th since the championship started in 1950.

Rosberg, who won the last three races of 2015 and now the first four of 2016, leads Hamilton by 43 points in the standings with 17 races remaining and the Briton facing an increasingly daunting challenge.

“Lewis is going to come back of course, he’s on it and as motivated as ever,” said Rosberg. “We’ll just take it race by race.”

Hamilton had reduced the gap between him and Rosberg to seven seconds by the 36th of the 53 laps but his challenge was then slowed by a water pressure problem.

“There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that I could win it, I had the pace, but then I had a problem with the engine again and had to back off,” said the champion.

Mercedes switched the power unit in his car after it failed in qualifying, flying parts out from Britain overnight by private jet to avoid a penalty that would have forced Hamilton to start from the pit lane.

Starts have been the Briton’s big weakness this season, despite two pole positions, and he had yet to get through the opening lap without problems but he stayed out of trouble as those around him collided.

Vettel, starting seventh, was hit twice from behind by Russian Kvyat’s Red Bull into turns two and three while Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and Manor’s Rio Haryanto both retired.

As Rosberg sped away, Raikkonen seized second place with Hamilton fifth as the safety car was deployed to allow debris to be cleared.

Brazilian Felipe Massa was fifth for Williams with Fernando Alonso sixth for McLaren, who had their first double points finish since Hungary last year when Jenson Button crossed the line in 10th place.

Denmark’s Kevin Magnussen took Renault’s first points of the season in seventh place with Frenchman Romain Grosjean continuing his remarkable form with newcomers Haas in eighth place. Force India’s Sergio Perez was ninth.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar and Ian Chadband)

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Murray survives Paire scare to reach Monte Carlo quarters | Reuters

MONTE CARLO Andy Murray avoided following Novak Djokovic out of the Monte Carlo Masters exit door after surviving a scare against local favourite Benoit Paire to reach the quarter-finals with a 2-6 7-5 7-5 victory on Thursday.

A day after world number one Djokovic suffered a stunning defeat by 55th-ranked Czech Jiri Vesely, Murray looked in trouble against Paire before subduing his opponent to set up a meeting with Canadian Milos Raonic.

World number two Murray was 5-4 down in the third set when Paire cracked under pressure and lost the remaining three games to hand victory to the Briton.

“I panicked. It’s the biggest disappointment of my career,” said Paire, who won the first set easily and was two breaks up in the second before Murray fought back.

Eight-times Monte Carlo champion Rafa Nadal was made to work hard by Dominic Thiem before advancing to the last eight 7-5 6-3 after the Austrian wasted 15 of 16 break points in the opening set.

The Spaniard will next face Stan Wawrinka after the Swiss, who won the claycourt Masters in 2014, demolished Frenchman Gilles Simon 6-1 6-2.

“From the start I was very strict with myself. I had to keep my tactics, be patient, attack him whenever I had the opportunity,” said fourth seed Wawrinka.

“My concentration was very good. This is important against Gilles. From the start I needed to dominate and be very present on the court. I succeeded in doing that.”

Third seed Roger Federer, back in action after a 10-week layoff, eased past Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2 6-4.

The Swiss will face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga after he beat fellow Frenchman Lucas Pouille 6-4 6-4.

France’s Gael Monfils, the 13th seed, ended the run of Djokovic’s conqueror Vesely with a 6-1 6-2 win.

(Writing by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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