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Hamilton edges Verstappen in Hungary F1 thriller

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Lewis Hamilton leads the drivers championship by a big margin.

Beijing: A bold strategy call from Mercedes helped Lewis Hamilton snatch the lead of the Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen with just three laps to go, with the Briton taking his eighth victory of the 2019 season. latest sports news headlines

In an entertaining race, the leading two were in a class of their own all day, with Verstappen seizing the initiative from his maiden pole position and Hamilton settling into second place.

The Briton pushed hard after both drivers had made their pit stops, and briefly took the lead after the pair went wheel-to-wheel at turn four on lap 39, but ran wide on the corner exit and was obliged to give the position back to Verstappen.

Realizing that their man would be unlikely to overtake Verstappen on track, Mercedes elected to pit Hamilton for another set of new tyres on lap 48, in the hope that the fresh rubber would allow him to quickly close the gap to the Dutchman.

Shifting to a two-stop strategy worked a treat, with Hamilton not losing his second place and setting several lap records as he closed on Verstappen at over a second per lap, ultimately taking the race lead on lap 67 of 70 as the Red Bull’s badly worn tyres rendered the Dutchman defenseless.

Speaking after the race, Hamilton paid tribute to his team’s role in securing the victory. “I’m really grateful for the team for believing in me and always pushing to the limits and taking a chance. This wouldn’t be possible without the hard work of everyone at the factory. I was on the limit all the way. I didn’t know if I could overhaul a 19 second gap. It was like [doing] qualifying laps every lap.”

Despite losing the lead so late in the race, Verstappen was magnanimous in defeat. “We were not fast enough,” the Dutchman lamented.

“We tried everything, but it was not enough, but I think it was a good weekend overall. Congratulations to Lewis. He was pushing me hard, and I like that.”

Behind the leading two, Sebastian Vettel took advantage of a similar strategy call to overtake teammate Charles Leclerc for third place, though Ferrari may be concerned at their lack of pace relative to the leading two, with their cars finishing over one minute adrift of Hamilton.

It was not a good day for Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas, who finished only eighth after having to pit for a new nosecone following contact early in the race, and suffered the ignominy of being lapped by his teammate.

After crashing out at the previous race in Germany, the Finn’s recent displays will do nothing to quieten the rumors that Mercedes are set to replace him with Esteban Ocon for 2020. latest sports news headlines

Elsewhere, McLaren’s Carlos Sainz took a fine fifth place, ahead of Verstappen’s stablemate Pierre Gasly in another underwhelming performance.

Having failed to register a top-three finish so far this season, the Frenchman is another whose drive is reported to be under threat. latest sports news headlines

Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen finished a solid seventh, Sainz’s teammate Lando Norris took ninth, and Toro Rosso’s Alexander Albon rounded out the points positions in 10th place.

Hamilton’s win sees him extend his championship lead to 250 points, with Bottas second on 188 and Verstappen close behind on 181. latest sports news headlines

In the constructor’s standings, Mercedes remain out in front on 438, with Ferrari some way back with 288, and Red Bull on 244. latest sports news headlines

Following a four-week mid-season break, the 2019 Formula 1 season resumes on September 1 with the Belgian Grand Prix.

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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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