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

Press Trust of India

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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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FMSCI rejects reports claiming inconsistency in Gill’s Arjuna application

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New Delhi: India’s governing body for motorsport (FMSCI) on Saturday dismissed reports that ace rally driver Gaurav Gill had misrepresented his achievements to the Arjuna Award selection committee but members including Vicky Chandhok called for a thorough inquiry into the matter.

Three-time three Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) winner Gill had become the first motorsport driver to be conferred the Arjuna award earlier this year.

However, according to a media report, there were inconsistency in his application that he submitted to the selection committee for Arjuna Awards consideration.

The report said Gill had claimed in his 13-page application, which was signed by FMSCI Secretary general Rajan Sayal, that he “won 11 stages of the World Rally Championship” in 2018 but the claim was dismissed by the World body FIA (F d ration Internationale de l’Automobile).

“A malicious, motivated report on Gaurav Gill’s Arjuna Award application is doing the rounds. Secretary-General, FMSCI denounces it in the strongest terms possible as it is meant to mislead people who don’t understand motorsports,” FMSCI wrote on its twitter handle.

“Gaurav’s application categorically mentioned that he took part in the WRC2 category of the World Rally Championship in 2018. And yes, he won 11 stages in it.”

Chandhok, who sits on the FMSCI council and is a former president, said Gill was the most deserving candidate for Arjuna but the body should probe the matter thoroughly.

For the same reason, he has also written a letter of FMSCI president J Prithiraj, a copy of which is in possession of PTI.

“I sincerely hope there was no fraud committed for the sake of our sport and actually pray that everything was true in the application since the consequences of the opposite will be very hard hitting to the persons involved,” he said in his letter to the president.

Chandhok, who was instrumental in bringing Formula 1 to India, later told PTI: “There may or may not be misrepresentation of facts but it needs to examined thoroughly.”

Last year, Gill had participated in four rallies, one each in Italy, Finland, Wales and Australia as an unregistered driver in World Rally Championship 2 and won 11 stages.

WRC2 is a second tier competition. It is a companion rally series to the World Rally Championship, and is driven on the same stages.

Last week, Gill and his navigator were booked on the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder after their car rammed into a motorcycle during the National Rally Championship race in Rajasthan and killed a couple and their son.

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