Lewis Hamilton hoping for quick turnaround for Mercedes in Shanghai

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton at the Bahrain Grand Prix. (REUTERS)
Updated 09 April 2018

Lewis Hamilton hoping for quick turnaround for Mercedes in Shanghai

London: Lewis Hamilton admitted to concerns about Mercedes’ early-season form after seeing Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel remain unbeaten in Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
The 33-year-old defending four-time world champion said he had little idea how or why Ferrari had been able to outperform his Mercedes team, Vettel claiming a tense win ahead of Valtteri Bottas.
It was the German’s second win in as many races this season and installed him as a clear favorite to beat Hamilton to become a five-time champion.
“I am thinking and wondering,” said Hamilton. “My thoughts are already on the world championship — I’ve lost two races in a row now and I am 17 points down after just two races.
“Obviously, the grid penalty was difficult to swallow here this weekend, but I think the team did a really good job.
“Hopefully, when we go to China for the next race, we will have a better understanding of the tires and put up a better fight against Ferrari.
“Shanghai has been kind to me in the past so I am hoping I can bounce back.” Vettel won Sunday’s race despite admitting he felt Mercedes had him in “check-mate” when they adopted a one-stop strategy.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said he believed that move had given his team a “90 percent chance” of winning, with Bottas on durable medium tires close behind Vettel who was on soft tires and a two-stop strategy.
But Ferrari switched strategy and asked Vettel to go the full distance — meaning he ran 39 laps on used soft tires to complete the race.
“I think we had won the race already after coming out on the medium behind Sebastian, with a gap that we were able to close down, and knowing that they would either need to stop once again or they would run out of tire,” said Wolff.
“At that moment, I would say 90 percent probability was on us winning — and we lost that.”
Hamilton said he believed he lost the race in qualifying when he could not match Ferrari’s pace — as they locked out the front row of the grid and he had a changed gearbox that cost him five places.
“I could not make the moves I wanted to in the opening laps and that cost me,” said Hamilton.
Wolff added that he was encouraged by the pace of Mercedes cars in the closing laps as they chased down Vettel without avail.
“What was interesting to see was that maybe the pace of the Ferrari was not as good as we expected,” he added. “Our pace was solid on the super-soft and I think we could have probably gone a little quicker.”


Saudi women ride into history with ‘dream’ home debut

Updated 14 December 2019

Saudi women ride into history with ‘dream’ home debut

  • Olympic and World Cup qualification points are up for grabs in the second edition of the festival 13 Saudi female jockeys are participating in the qualifier, set for Dec. 14 and Dec. 19-21
  • 13 Saudi female jockeys are participating in the qualifier, set for Dec. 14 and Dec. 19-21

RIYADH: Saudi women riders are saddling up to make history when they compete side by side with their male counterparts for the first time as part of this month’s Diriyah Equestrian Festival.

Olympic and World Cup qualification points are up for grabs in the second edition of the festival being held on Dec. 14 and Dec. 19-21.

However, more significantly, women riders will compete in the same arena as their male counterparts for the first time in the Kingdom’s history.

Over the course of two weekends, the festival will feature 120 riders, 150 grooms, 50 officials, 300 companions and trainers, 250 club members and 150 crew.

The 13 Saudi women competitors are excited that the moment to shine on their home turf has finally arrived.

“This is a dream,” said 18-year-old Lama Al-Ajmi. “It’s an international four-star competition and I will finally get to represent my country on home soil.

13 Saudi female jockeys participate for the first time in the Diriyah Equestrian Festival. (SPA)

“For me, this is the start. This is the start for all of us. I want to be on top and the Olympics are my dream,” she added.

Sultanah Abar, 32, a graphic designer and former UN employee, will compete alongside her brother Abdelkarim in the festival — their first time riding together in an international competition in their homeland.

“I started riding when I was four years old,” she said. “But until now I’ve only been able to compete abroad. Finally, we can compete at home and it makes me proud.” 

Wafa Al-Hasoun, 24, also voiced her excitement at being able to join an international competition in her country. “We used to watch, now we participate and look to win. We’re very excited to finally be part of this,” she said.

The equestrian festival is part of the wider Diriyah Season, a month of major sports events such as Formula E, top-class men’s tennis and the recent world heavyweight title fight The Clash On The Dunes.

The Diriyah UNESCO World Heritage site will also stage performances from some of the globe’s biggest music artists, including Swedish House Mafia and Calvin Harris, as part of the festival.

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