Belgian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton in heavy crash in final practise ahead of qualifying

31 Aug

Lewis Hamilton suffered a heavy crash in final practice for the Belgian Grand Prix.

The defending Formula 1 world champion and current championship leader lost control of his Mercedes at high speed before slamming head-on into the barriers.

Lewis Hamilton’s battered car is lifted from the track in Belgium
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“I am in the wall, guys,” said Hamilton over the team radio. “Sorry.”

The British star emerged from unscathed, but suffered extensive damage to the front of his battered car.

Mercedes mechanics will now face a race against time to get his car ready for qualifying, which begins at 2pm on Saturday, but the German team said they are hopeful everything will be fixed in time for Hamilton to compete.

A Mercedes spokesman said: “We will be replacing both front corners [suspension and wheel assemblies], nose, barge boards and floor.

“Barring nasty surprises, we can complete all of the work in time.”

The main fear for Mercedes is possible damage to the gear box, as replacing it before the race would incur a five-place gird penalty.

Reacting to Hamilton’s crash, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff added: “Hopefully it’s not the engine or the gear box, and it doesn’t look too bad at the moment.

“I think if I would run around and panic like a headless chicken it wouldn’t be good for the guys fixing the car so we need to be calm.”

In Hamilton’s absence, Ferrari continued their domination of the weekend in Spa-Francorchamps, with Charles Leclerc fastest.

The impressive 23-year-old man from Monaco finished nearly half-a-second clear of his team-mate Sebastian Vettel, while Valtteri Bottas was third for Mercedes, 0.497 seconds off the pace.

Ferrari have a golden opportunity for claim their first race win this year, with their one-two finish to practise making them favourites for pole position.

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA gets a massive price hike

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2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA ClassOnce the least-expensive Mercedes-Benz available in the United States, the CLA coupe is getting a noteworthy price bump for 2020 thanks (at least in part) to the introduction of the new A-Class sedan. The 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 will start at $37,645 (including a $995 destination charge), CarsDirect reports. That makes it $3,550 more expensive...

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class gets a massive price hike

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2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA ClassOnce the least-expensive Mercedes-Benz available in the United States, the CLA coupe is getting a noteworthy price bump for 2020 thanks (at least in part) to the introduction of the new A-Class sedan. The 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 will start at $37,645 (including a $995 destination charge), CarsDirect reports. That makes it $3,550 more expensive...

Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying: Max Verstappen beats Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas to score first pole position of his career

3 Aug

Max Verstappen held off the challenge from Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas to secure the first pole position of his career for Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

Just six days after his sublime drive to victory in the rain at Hockenheim, Verstappen thrilled his travelling orange army once more with another imperious display.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has sparked life back into the F1 season by taking on Mercedes duo Hamilton and Bottas
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The 21-year-old lit up the time sheets with a Hungaroring track record, finishing just 0.016 seconds ahead of Bottas with reigning Formula 1 champion Hamilton in third, two tenths back.

Verstappen crossed the line first, his lap greeted with huge cheers from the main grandstand, and despite late improvements by both Bottas and Hamilton, the Mercedes duo were unable to usurp the flying Dutchman.

The Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel line up fourth and fifth with Verstappen’s team-mate Pierre Gasly sixth.

Leclerc hit the wall in Q1 after losing control of his Ferrari at the final corner. But swift repairs by his team allowed the Monegasque to carry on.

Max Verstappen celebrates the first pole position of his F1 career
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“The car has felt good all weekend and it was flying in qualifying,” said Verstappen, moments after capturing pole.

“I am very happy about today. There is still a race to do and that is the most important thing.”

Hamilton, who holds a 63-point lead over Verstappen in the standings, said: “We always target first, but it got away from me.

“We are in a good position to fight for the win so we will be pushing hard for the victory tomorrow.

“I am always down for a fight. It is a long way down to turn one. It is not easy to overtake but hopefully we can give them a run for their money.”

Lewis Hamilton has ‘delivered everything he could possibly do for Great Britain’, lauds Formula 1 legend Damon Hill after record Silverstone win

15 Jul

Formula 1 legend Damon Hill has hit back at claims Lewis Hamilton is ‘not patriotic’ following his record British Grand Prix win at Silverstone.

The Brit overtook Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas to storm to his sixth victory at his home race – taking him over closer to a sixth world championship title.

But, while the 141,000-strong crowd at Silverstone were delighted by his win, Hamilton faced criticism in some quarters following his landmark triumph.

Hamilton looks unstoppable in his pursuit of a sixth world title
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His incredible achievements in the sport have not stopped the online haters, with the Stevenage-born ace often criticised for taking up residence in tax-haven Monaco and accused by some fans of ‘not being British’

But Hill insists Hamilton has flown the flag for Great Britain with pride and has ‘delivered everything he could possibly do’ for his country.

Speaking to talkSPORT host Jim White, the 1996 F1 world champion said: “It’s difficult to come up with more superlatives; the guy is dominant in his era and he’s had everything thrown at him and he’s delivered on every level.

“It’s very difficult to think what else he can do, apart from of course beat Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world titles.

“He has become a world recognised sports star and that of course means he’s more international, but he’s an English lad… he’s from Stevenage and he grew up in this country!

“He does try to convince us he is very patriotic and I think sometimes the more he does that the less we are inclined to buy that sort of ‘selling tactic’.

F1 driver standings

After 10 races, Hamilton is way out in front in the championship standings. But who comes behind Hamilton in the top 10?

  1. Lewis Hamilton – 223 points
  2. Valtteri Bottas – 184 points
  3. Max Verstappen – 136 points
  4. Sebastien Vettel – 123 points
  5. Charles Leclerc – 120 points
  6. Pierre Gasly – 55 points
  7. Carlos Sainz – 38 points
  8. Kimi Raikkonen – 25 points
  9. Lando Norris – 22 points
  10. Daniel Ricciardo – 22 points

“But he doesn’t have to worry about it.

“He’s delivered everything he could possibly do for this country – he is the highest-winning British driver and second highest in the history of Formula One.

Asked how he would have fared against Hamilton had they raced in the same era, Hill added: “It would have been very difficult to beat him!

Lewis Hamilton celebrates with fans after his victory at Silverstone, but he isn’t loved by all
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“To beat him, what I found from racing against people like Michael Schumacher is that I could do it, but I couldn’t do it all the time, and Lewis can do it all the time.

“He might have the occasional blip, but it doesn’t happen very often.”

Listen back to talkSPORT’s interview with Damon Hill IN FULL above!

Lewis Hamilton’s dominance over Formula 1 since 2014 perfectly illustrated by incredible statistic

29 Jun

Lewis Hamilton has been in dominant form once again this season and leads the Formula 1 championship.

The British driver is looking for his third consecutive F1 title and if he does seal it again in 2019 then it will be five years out the last six.

Lewis Hamilton has won four of the last five F1 championships
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The 34-year-old has won six of the eight races in 2019, while the other two have gone to Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton is looking for another win to add to his collection on Sunday at the Austrian Grand Prix but Charles Leclerc was on pole after qualifying.

The five-time world champion has been dominating F1 over the last six seasons.

Hamilton has been dominant once again this season
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One stat that illustrates just how much better he has been than everyone else is his win percentage over those six years.

Hamilton has won 52.8 per cent of all the F1 races since 2014 while Mercedes have won more than 75 per cent of races during that time.

In the driver standings for 2019, the British driver is top on 187 points ahead of team-mate Bottas on 151.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel is third on 111 points.

Something would also have to go disastrously wrong for Mercedes to not win the constructors championship this year as they are top on 338 with their nearest rival, Ferrari, on 198.

‘If Lewis Hamilton wants to make Formula 1 less boring, bosses should listen’ – Damon Hill on talkSPORT

25 Jun

British motorsport legend Damon Hill has urged Formula 1 to listen to Lewis Hamilton, after the world champion called for bosses to make the sport more exciting.

Following his French Grand Prix victory – his sixth win in eight races this season – the Mercedes driver responded to the grumbles from F1 fans about his team’s domination.

The 34-year-old, widely expected to claim his third straight world championship title with the silver arrows, says neither he nor his team are to blame and instead pointed the finger at the sport’s bosses, particularly former chief Bernie Ecclestone.

Hamilton now leads the championship by a massive 36 points from team-mate Valtteri Bottas. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel is 76 points behind Hamilton in third.
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“Don’t point fingers at the drivers, we don’t write the rules,” said Hamilton, whose team-mate Valtteri Bottas has won the other two races.

“We have nothing to do with money shifting, all that kind of stuff. You should put the pressure on the people at the head, who should be doing the job.

“This is a constant cycle of Formula 1 for years and years and years, even before I got to F1, and it’s because the way Bernie had it set up and the decisions they were making back then. It’s still the same.

“Until that management structure changes, it will continue to be the same, in my opinion. That’s not my job to do that. My job’s to come here and do the best I can as a driver.”

And, speaking to talkSPORT host Jim White on Tuesday, Hill insisted Formula 1 chiefs should sit up and take note, saying the structure and balance of the sport is wrong.

“I think they should [listen], he speaks from the heart,” said the 1996 F1 champion.

“I think what he’s referring to is not necessarily the current incumbents; I think what he’s saying is that the sport has never really taken on board the beliefs, the knowledge and the desires of the people who compete.

“In football you have the PFA, but in our sport the decisions about how the sport goes and the direction which things are done are predicated on what the teams and manufacturers want.

“F1 is divided into two championships – the Constructors’ Championship and the Drivers’ Championship. This is where the problem arises.

Hamilton is enjoying his best-ever start to an F1 season
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“The Constructors’ Championship has taken over in importance over the years, far more so than the Drivers’ Championship, even though the people who watch Formula 1 are not interested in the Constructors’ Championship!

“What Lewis is saying is the structure is wrong, the balance is wrong.

“What is needed is input from the athletes, the people actually in the arena doing the racing, to have an influence on the show, the event itself. There isn’t enough input.

“Obviously Lewis did another brilliant job at the weekend, he dominated the race, but unfortunately for all of us it was a big yawn.

Damon Hill says Formula 1 needs more input from the drivers to make the sport more exciting
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“I can’t complain, I also drove cars in a dominant era and every driver wants to have a bit of an advantage, but the races I’ve loved and the races people remember are the closely fought races where the cars are evenly matched.

“The thing that attracts young people to go and race is the racing itself. And the racing decisions, the way they try to bring about cars that are satisfying to race and spectacular to watch, both good for the drivers and good for the fans and, those tend to take second place to the other considerations.”

Listen back to talkSPORT’s interview with Damon Hill IN FULL above

Spanish Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton wins in Barcelona as Mercedes record fifth straight one-two finish

12 May

Lewis Hamilton is back in charge of the world championship after a superb start fired him to victory at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Hamilton was handed a rare thrashing by Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas in qualifying at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya on Saturday, but the British star returned to his notorious best, winning at a canter.

Hamilton dominated after passing Bottas on the first corner

British teenager Lando Norris crashed with Lance Stroll which saw the introduction of a safety car with 20 laps to run.

But Hamilton remained in complete control, taking the chequered flag ahead of Bottas as Mercedes secured their fifth consecutive one-two.

Hamilton, who also scored a bonus point for the fastest lap, now leads Bottas by seven points in the title race.

Ferrari’s disappointing campaign continued as confusion reigned over their strategy with both drivers losing out to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who finished third.

Sebastian Vettel crossed the line in fourth, with team-mate Charles Leclerc fifth.

There was serious criticism aimed at Ferrari for their questionable strategy

Vettel is now 48 points behind Hamilton after just five rounds.

“It was an interesting start and very, very close,” said Hamilton after his third consecutive win in Spain and 76th in all.

“I knew that Valterri would brake super-deep, so it wasn’t a replay of what happened in Baku.”

Reflecting on the opening moments of the race, Bottas said: “It was pretty tight, but I lost it at the start.

“There was strange behaviour with the clutch which I never felt before. I am keen to find out why it was so bad and why it happened.”

Hamilton, Formula One’s fastest-ever man over one lap, will have been irked by the margin of his defeat to Bottas in the shootout for pole position.

But the Englishman made amends off the start line, drawing alongside Bottas within a matter of metres before making the move stick on the 300-metre charge to the opening bend.

Vettel was quick out of the blocks, too, switching to the outside of the Mercedes pair, with Bottas in a Ferrari-Hamilton sandwich.

Vettel went for glory, but locked up in the braking zone and ran off the track. Verstappen then sailed around the outside of the German at the next corner.

With Hamilton galloping into the distance, the attention turned to Vettel, now on damaged rubber after his ambitious first-corner salvo.

Leclerc was all over the back of his team-mate, but Ferrari waited until lap 11 before giving the order for a wounded Vettel to move aside. Vettel was desperate to stop for new tyres, but his team were determined to keep him out.

Hamilton now leads the driver standings

After querying the decision on several occasions, he eventually came in on lap 19. Leclerc stopped on lap 26, but curiously was put on the harder tyre. Vettel behind, on the speedier medium compound, was faster than Leclerc.

“What is going on with these tyres?” Leclerc, 21, asked. Despite putting their drivers on different strategies, Ferrari dithered on whether to usher Leclerc aside.

The order eventually arrived on lap 33. By then, both men had lost time duelling for position. Moments later, Vettel stopped for a second time, with Ferrari perhaps hoping Leclerc may be able to make it to the end.

But any advantage he might have had was wiped out when Norris biffed Stroll at the second bend. Stroll ended up in the gravel, and Norris stopped on the track with damage to his McLaren.

The ensuing safety car effectively afforded all the drivers a free stop, leaving Ferrari no option but to bring in Leclerc for a second time. Verstappen benefited to take third in what has been an impressive season for the Red Bull driver.

Spanish Grand Prix qualifying: Valtteri Bottas beats Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to pole position

11 May

Valtteri Bottas delivered a statement of intent in the Formula 1 championship by blowing away Lewis Hamilton to secure pole position for Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix.

Bottas, who heads Hamilton in the title race by one point, finished a staggering 0.634 seconds clear of his Mercedes team-mate in Barcelona.

Valtteri Bottas celebrates after securing pole position at the Circuit de Catalunya

It marked Bottas’ third straight pole. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel will start from third place – he finished almost nine tenths down on Bottas.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen managed to split the Ferraris. He lines up in fourth ahead of Charles Leclerc.

Bottas might have considered himself fortunate to hang on to his seat at Mercedes following an underwhelming campaign last year, in which he failed to win a single race.

But the Finn will be delighted with his start to the season, sharing two victories apiece with Hamilton, and securing yet another pole here.

Hamilton has not been at his best this weekend. The world champion made an uncharacteristic mistake on his opening timed lap to finish well behind his team-mate.

Bottas finished way ahead of Mercedes team-mate Hamilton and Ferrai’s Sebastian Vettel

“Valtteri has been quick all weekend and I just didn’t put the laps together,” said Hamilton.

“It just wasn’t a good enough job.

“I will be giving it everything tomorrow. We will try to convert this into a one-two finish and if I can reverse it I will be happy.”

Bottas added: “The season has started well and the way I hope for. I feel better and better in the car.”

Vettel had hoped the Barcelona track would be the venue for his championship fightback.

But the German, already 35 points adrift in the title race, could find no answer for the speed of the Mercedes cars.

Indeed, it is looking more and more likely that Bottas could provide the biggest threat to Hamilton’s quest for a sixth world crown.

Hamilton wasn’t at his best during Saturday’s qualifying in Barcelona 

There were gloomy faces in the Renault garage as Nico Hulkenberg fell at the first hurdle of qualifying. Hulkenberg finished seventh in the championship last year, but his French team are struggling this term.

Daniel Ricciardo, who turned his back on Red Bull to join Renault, did well to get his car into the top 10, but the Australian serves a three-place grid drop after he reversed into Daniil Kvyat at the last race. He will be 13th on the grid.

Ricciardo’s penalty promoted Lando Norris to 10th. The Brit, who is steadily impressing in his maiden season, finished two spots ahead of Carlos Sainz in the sister McLaren.

British rookie George Russell finished 1.2 sec ahead of his Williams team-mate Robert Kubica, out-qualifying the Pole for a fifth time in as many races.

The 21-year-old, however, will be demoted to the back of the field, penalised for taking on a new gearbox after he crashed out of final practice.

Azerbaijan Grand Prix: Valtteri Bottas wins in Baku as Mercedes claim another one-two

28 Apr

Valtteri Bottas held off Lewis Hamilton to win the Azerbaijan Grand Prix and take the lead of the Formula One world championship.

Bottas started from pole position and kept Hamilton at bay as the Mercedes duo went wheel-to-wheel through the opening three bends.

Hamilton attempted a late charge for victory, but Bottas had enough in his pocket to take the chequered flag and move one point clear in the title standings.

More follows.