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Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel ends dry run at Singapore GP

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sebastian vettel

Singapore: Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel ended his year-long drought without a win at the Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday, mastering a hazy circuit to claim a record fifth triumph in the city-state.

The German was chased home by teammate Charles Leclerc, who started on pole but lost the lead to the four-time world champion after making his pit stop, and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who finished third.

“It was a very late call on the pit stop and I just gave it everything on the out lap. I was surprised to come out ahead and it was difficult to manage the tyres but we controlled it to the end,” Vettel told reporters.

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton finished fourth but extended his advantage over fellow Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas to 65 points, with six races remaining, after the Finn finished in fifth.

The race got off to a clean start with the top six retaining their grid positions despite Vettel putting immense pressure on second-placed Hamilton in the opening lap.

While a few drivers were shifting position further down the field, the frontrunners were maintaining a one-second gap between each other as Leclerc set a slow pace to make his soft tyres last as long as possible.

Ferrari and Red Bull were the first of the big teams to bring their cars in for pit stops as Vettel and Verstappen were fitted with the more durable hard tyres on lap 20, with Leclerc following suit on the next lap.

Leclerc, however, was dismayed to leave the pits behind Vettel.

Hamilton stayed out on track in the lead to set about forging a big enough gap to retain the lead when it was his turn to come in.

But Vettel, Leclerc and Verstappen were lapping much quicker than Hamilton and when the Briton finally stopped seven laps after his rivals, he emerged in a distant fourth place.

Hamilton’s only hope of victory was to capitalise on his rivals’ degraded tyres late in the race.

But three safety car periods — when both George Russell and Sergio Perez stopped on the track, and when Daniil Kvyat collided with Kimi Raikkonen — allowed the front three plenty of time to cool their rubber.

Ferrari will be delighted to have recorded a one-two finish at a circuit they were not expected to muster a podium finish.

But Leclerc was unhappy with the pit strategy that dashed his hopes of a hat-trick after wins in Belgium and Italy.

“I won’t do anything stupid, I want us to finish one-two,” Leclerc told Ferrari over the radio when he was behind the second safety car.

“I just don’t think it’s fair.”

Smog from forest fires in neighbouring Indonesia has shrouded Singapore over the past week, and on Sunday air quality dipped to unhealthy levels ahead of the race.

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2014 season was fastest but 2019 has been the best: Marquez

Press Trust of India

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Marc Márquez

Motegi (Japan): The 2019 MotoGP Championships title already in his pocket, Team Repsol Honda rider Marc Marquez on Friday said he won’t take it easy in the remaining four races and would aim to grab a few more pole positions in what has been “the best season” for him.

The 26-year-old Spaniard, who made his MotoGP debut in 2012, has created a flutter by winning six world championships title overall, which includes four in a row since 2016.

“I will go with the same mentality. I will try to finish at the podium in all the races. It is not impossible but difficult to win the last four races, said Marquez, who finished fourth and third in Free Practice 1 and 2 at the Twin Racing Motegi circuit here on Friday.

“In some circuits the Yahama riders will be very fast and in some circuits Ducati, but I will try to keep my focus and go with the same mentality like I did throughout the season.”

Marquez, who has been with Repsol Honda from his debut season, rated the ongoing MotoGP season as his “best” so far.

“2014 was a great season but it is true that this season has turned out to be the best one. In terms of consistency, I was very solid in every weekend. I was focused which is the most important thing,” said the Spaniard, who won his first MotoGP race in 2013 and defended the title in 2014.

“2014 was the fastest but this one surely is the best.”

Besides the six MotoGp titles, Marquez also boasts of two more world crowns the 125cc World Championship in 2010 and Moto2 World Championship in 2012.

Marquez was not really satisfied with his practice sessions on Friday, but vowed to come out stronger during the weekend.

“The way to approach the weekend will be the same but we have realized that we have struggled here a little bit. Today we started with a normal base (tyres) but the feeling was not the best one. We tried to adapt to the circuit and we did a great job, he said.

Marquez’s teammate Jorge Lorenzo finished 19th and 17th in the FP1 and FP2 respectively.

Petronas Yamaha SRT rider Fabio Quartararo of France set the pace with combined fastest timing of 1:44.764 seconds.

The qualifying will be held on Saturday and race on Sunday.

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McLaren, Mercedes to renew F1 partnership from 2021

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Sochi; McLaren will renew their once-revered partnership with Mercedes from 2021, the German manufacturer and British racing team announced at the Russian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Mercedes will succeed Renault as McLaren’s engine-supplier when their current contract ends next year.

The former champions have agreed a long-term deal with Mercedes that will run to 2024 and, if successful, beyond.

The confirmation of the deal was made in a joint statement in which Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff said he was delighted to “welcome McLaren back to the Mercedes-Benz racing family”.

“We hope that this new long-term agreement marks another milestone for McLaren as they aim to take the fight to the sport’s top teams, including our Mercedes works team,” said Wolff.

McLaren won 78 races, three drivers’ championship titles and one constructors’ title during their previous partnership with Mercedes from 1995 to 2014 before an ill-fated return to Honda.

Championship leader and defending five-time champion Lewis Hamilton took his first title with McLaren-Mercedes in 2008. Mika Hakkinen won two titles with them in 1998 and 1999.

McLaren are currently in a rebuilding period with a driver line up of Spaniard Carlos Sainz and British rookie Lando Norris.

The team is without a race win since 2012, but have recovered from a dismal spell to become one of the contenders for fourth place in this year’s constructors’ championship.

McLaren team chief Zak Brown said: “This agreement is an important step in our long-term plan to return to success in Formula One.” The start of the new deal will coincide with the introduction of a new identity and set of rules for Formula One.

Mercedes supply engines to their own factory team, Racing Point and Williams.

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Hamilton triumphs in Russia to extend world championship lead

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Lewis Hamilton leads the drivers championship by a big margin.

Sochi (Russia): Lewis Hamilton extended his world championship lead to 73 points when he rode his luck to claim a strategic victory for Mercedes in a roller-coaster Russian Grand Prix.

The defending five-time champion came home 3.829 seconds ahead of team-mate and nearest championship rival Valtteri Bottas as Mercedes took advantage of Ferrari’s reliability and tactical problems by delivering a Silver Arrows one-two.

Having grabbed the lead from pole man Charles Leclerc on the opening lap, Sebastian Vettel ignored team orders to let him pass before he suffered a mechanical failure and stopped on lap 28.

The resultant Safety Car period gifted Mercedes, who started on medium tyres while their rivals all used softs, a chance to extend their Sochi supremacy to six consecutive wins.

Leclerc came home a frustrated and disgruntled third, claiming he expected Vettel to repay him for his slip-stream in a race punctuated by two Safety Car interventions and one use of the Virtual Safety Car.

Hamilton’s win was his first since the Hungarian Grand Prix on August 4, his ninth in 16 outings this year and the 82nd of his career, lifting him 73 points clear at the top of the drivers’ title race. He scored an additional point for fastest lap.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finished fourth, having started ninth, ahead of team-mate Alex Albon, who had started from the pit lane.

Carlos Sainz was sixth for McLaren ahead of Sergio Perez of Racing Point, Kevin Magnussen of Haas, Lando Norris in the second McLaren and Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg.

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