Hamilton beats Bottas at Spanish GP for 5th Mercedes 1-2

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, right, and Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas of Finland celebrate with the chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG Dieter Zetsche on the podium during the Spanish Formula One race at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, just outside Barcelona, Spain, on May 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
Updated 13 May 2019
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Hamilton beats Bottas at Spanish GP for 5th Mercedes 1-2

  • Hamilton’s third win of the campaign let him take the championship lead by seven points over Bottas

MONTMELO, Spain: Lewis Hamilton beat teammate Valtteri Bottas to win the Spanish Grand Prix for a third consecutive year on Sunday, securing a fifth 1-2 finish for Mercedes to start the Formula One season.

Hamilton’s third win of the campaign let him take the championship lead by seven points over Bottas, who had entered the race with a one-point advantage.

“This is history in the making to have five one-twos,” Hamilton said about his team’s record start to 2019.

Max Verstappen was third in his Red Bull, in front of Ferrari pair Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc.

It was the five-time and defending champion’s 76th career victory. Only Michael Schumacher has more with 91.

As opposed to his win here in 2017 and 2018 from pole position, Hamilton had to overtake pole-sitter Bottas. Once in front he cruised through the race’s 66 laps of the Barcelona-Catalunya circuit without a challenge.

Hamilton got the jump on Bottas off the line when Vettel leapt forward and made it three abreast going through the first corner. Vettel locked up on the turn, and Bottas, sandwiched in the middle, had to blink to avoid a possible collision as Hamilton sped clear.

Verstappen took advantage of the joisting to slip by Vettel and into third.

Ferrari was faster on this same track during two weeks of preseason testing this winter and had hoped to make up the gap by bringing in a new engine for the race. But Mercedes was unfazed and stormed to yet another win to further demoralize its rivals.

While the Mercedes pair and Verstappen zoomed away, the Ferraris joisted with each other and watched their chances to even salvage a podium spot fade away.

Leclerc overtook the slower Vettel, then Vettel hunted Leclerc down and they both lost time while Leclerc defended his spot until Ferrari finally ordered him to let Vettel past.

Bottas had shown faster speed in practice and in qualifying than Hamilton, when Bottas set a scorching track record that was a whopping 0.6 seconds faster than the Brit’s best effort.

Bottas’ chances for victory were sunk by his poor start, when his wheels appeared to spin while Hamilton immediately made up the difference from second on the grid.

“It was pretty tight (at the first curve), but I lost it at the start,” Bottas asid. “I feft some strange behavior with the clutch. I lost it there.”

Except for the race in Bahrain, when Hamilton won thanks to an implosion by Ferrari, the other four races this season have been decided in their opening meters. Bottas surged past Hamilton from the line en route to winning in the season-opening Australia GP. Hamilton did likewise to get past pole-sitting Bottas at the first turn to win in China, and Bottas defended his pole position from Hamilton starting second on the grid in his victory at Azerbaijan last round.

Hamilton, who had said that he was “too friendly” in not challenging Bottas hard enough to the first corner in Baku two weeks ago, showed little mercy once he got in front this time.

“It wasn’t a replay of Baku at least,” Hamilton said stepping onto the winner’s podium.

Mercedes’s struggling rivals will now have two weeks to try to improve before facing the labyrinth-like street circuit of Monaco.


Interview: Turkish NBA star Enes Kanter on standing up to ‘ruthless’ Erdogan

Updated 23 May 2019
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Interview: Turkish NBA star Enes Kanter on standing up to ‘ruthless’ Erdogan

  • ‘I have an obligation to speak against atrocities,’ basketball star tells Arab News
  • ‘Whatever I am going through in my personal life doesn’t impact my performance on court’

CHICAGO: NBA superstar Enes Kanter says he loves his homeland Turkey as much as he loves professional basketball. 

Yet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has continuously attacked Kanter, who plays for the Portland Trail Blazers.

Erdogan has arrested Kanter’s father, and bullied his family after accusing the basketball player of being part of the Hizmet movement of exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who the president asserts was behind a failed coup attempt in 2016.

Two years ago this week, Erdogan demanded that Kanter be arrested, and fears of violence from the Turkish state have gotten so bad that the FBI installed a panic button to help protect the player.

Kanter said he will continue to play professional basketball, and will not be silent about the Turkish government’s repression.

“His (Erdogan’s) regime’s and his hostility to me began in 2013 when I first start criticizing (the) government on unjust, unfair and illegal closures of college preparatory centers linked to businesspeople in the Hizmet movement,” Kanter said.

 “This closure pretty much became the first public clash between the Erdogan regime and the Hizmet movement,” he added.

“It was obvious that there was something that Erdogan doesn’t like about the Hizmet movement. Up until the closures of college preparatory centers, no one knew about that,” Kanter said.

“The way Erdogan handled this relationship was brutal, ruthless, unjust and unfair. I can’t stand for any of these, so I stood up against this tyranny and started criticizing. Neither Erdogan stopped his approach nor I, and we’ve kept clashing since then.”

Kanter said he will continue to play professional basketball, and will not be silent about the Turkish government’s repression. (AFP)

Kanter played for the Turkish national team at EuroBasket 2011 in Lithuania, and for the Turkish U18 national team in 2009.

He led Turkey to the bronze medal at the European Championships in France, and was named Best Player and Best Center at the 2009 European Championships by Eurobasket.com. 

Kanter signed with the Utah Jazz in 2011, the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2015, the New York Knicks in 2017, and the Portland Trail Blazers in February this year.

The Trail Blazers lost the Western Division Playoffs, the first step to the NBA Championships, to California’s Golden State Warriors in the final game on Monday.

Erdogan’s threats have placed enormous pressure on Kanter, but he insists it has not impacted his performance or his commitment to help the people of Turkey.

“I’m a successful professional athlete, and whatever I’m going through in my private life would never impact my performance on court,” he said.

“They’re two different worlds for me … I’ve known nothing else but basketball … since I was 13, so I guess it’s pretty important,” he added.

“I see basketball and my platform as a way to teach the younger generation how to be successful and hopeful for the future,” Kanter said.

“Once you’re a successful professional athlete, younger generations see you as a role model, so … I’m trying to do my best to set my life as a role model to them,” he added.

“I believe I have an obligation as a human being to speak up against any atrocities. I believe that as a human being I should be standing for human rights, democracy and freedom of speech … Me being a celebrity makes it easier for people to hear, see and experience what I believe.”

I believe I have an obligation as a human being to speak up against any atrocities.

Enes Kanter, Portland Trail Blazers center

On Erdogan, Kanter does not mince words. “He’s a dictator by definition. He silences media, destroys opposition, demonizes his critics … so all these make him a dictator,” Kanter said.

“Turkey deserves a leader who’s open minded, democratic, progressive, intelligent, modest and forward thinking, a leader who embraces everybody in the community regardless of their political choices.”

The harassment from Erdogan has put Kanter’s family at risk too. “I can’t say they’re safe when my dad lost his job and got jailed based on terrorism charges because I’m his son,” Kanter said. “These allegations are baseless and ridiculous, so how could I feel they’re safe?”

He said he respects Gulen and the Hizmet movement, rejecting Erdogan’s claims against them.

“I’m so close to Mr. Fethullah Gulen in terms of his life philosophy and teachings. I admire his way of extracting an individual’s inner potential … in order to be a better person in his or her community,” Kanter said.

“Erdogan should know that he’ll be brought to justice one day and pay for his mistakes. First, he should stop all his unjust, inhumane acts against the people of Turkey. Second, he should start making everybody’s life better in Turkey.”

Before moving to the US in 2009 to attend college in California, Kanter was a star basketball player in Turkey’s premier leagues.

He said despite playing for the NBA in the US, he still sees himself as a champion for Turkey and its people.

“I was Turkey’s best basketball player, and I’m still Turkey’s best basketball player. The only difference is that I’m now representing my country in the US. I left Turkey for a better opportunity in my career, to play in the NBA,” he added.

“I think everyone in society has an obligation to speak out on issues of human rights and democracy, and to stand tall against atrocities, inhumane practices and dictatorships,” Kanter said.

Celebrities like himself “have a bigger opportunity to make a difference and to raise awareness on such issues because of our platforms,” he added.

Erdogan has continuously attacked Kanter, who plays for the Portland Trail Blazers. (AFP)