Hamilton looking to extend F1 lead at Singapore Grand Prix

Mercedes’ British driver Lewis Hamilton during a press conference ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix night race. (AFP)
Updated 20 September 2019

Hamilton looking to extend F1 lead at Singapore Grand Prix

  • Hamilton will be hoping for a repeat of the 2018 race here when he won comfortably from pole position to extend his championship lead

SINGAPORE: Lewis Hamilton aims to turn up the heat in his bid for a sixth Formula One championship at this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver heads into Sunday’s race with a 63-point lead over teammate Valtteri Bottas.

As with last year’s race, drivers can expect sweltering heat and humidity. In addition to the heat, a thick haze has set in over the city-state with adviseries issued from the national government over “unhealthy” air conditions.

Hamilton will be hoping for a repeat of the 2018 race here when he won comfortably from pole position to extend his championship lead.

He was on a major roll entering last year’s GP, having won four of the past five races. While he already has eight wins this season, the British driver last won at the Hungarian GP in early August.

“The offset schedule and the climate make it a demanding weekend for the team,” Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said of the night race. “Temperatures in the garage can easily reach 40 degrees Celsius (104 F) or more with high humidity levels as well. It’s a tough environment to work in and it’s equally challenging for the drivers and the car itself.”

Hamilton has won here the last two years. A win on Sunday would move him a step closer to his third straight championship and sixth overall, moving him just one away from equaling Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of seven titles.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc heads into Singapore having won the previous two races this season. After his first-ever F1 victory in Spa at the Belgian GP, the 21-year-old Leclerc became the first Ferrari driver to win the Italian GP since Fernando Alonso in 2010.

Leclerc, who is now fourth in the standings, finished ninth for Sauber here last year.

“Singapore is maybe the toughest track for us drivers physically, just because of the heat and the humidity,” Leclerc said. 

“After two positive weekends in Belgium and Italy, the race in Singapore doesn’t look as good on paper for us, because of the very different circuit layout, featuring lots of slow corners and fewer straights ... but we will give our all to have a
good result.”

The 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) Marina Bay Street circuit is one of the hardest tracks for overtaking in F1, so whoever takes pole on Saturday will have the upper hand. The driver leading the field has won eight times in the past 10 years.


Beckham's stadium complex for Inter Miami taking shape

Updated 22 October 2019

Beckham's stadium complex for Inter Miami taking shape

  • For now, it's a construction site. Before long, Inter Miami will call it home.

FORT LAUDERDALE: Piles of steel sit at one end of the property, waiting to be lifted into place. Workers were going in all directions, some pounding nails into wood, others ready to pour concrete, others driving heavy equipment over piles of dirt.
For now, it's a construction site.
Before long, Inter Miami will call it home.
"Organized chaos," Inter Miami sporting director Paul McDonough said as he took a look around the site of the now-demolished Lockhart Stadium where work on a new complex is happening 12 hours a day, seven days a week. "But we'll be ready."
These are hectic times for McDonough and Inter Miami, the team headlined by football icon David Beckham that will embark on its inaugural MLS season starting early in 2020. The team doesn't have a coach yet. Or players. Or a schedule. Or even the first blade of grass for its new field.
Over the next few weeks, all those issues — and countless others — will be addressed. Construction is on schedule, with all signals pointing toward everything being ready for the team's first home match that's likely to come in March.
Still, that doesn't do much to help McDonough's sleep cycle.
"This takes up a ton of time and everything keeps me up at night," McDonough said. "But it's OK. We're just on an accelerated timeline. There's so much stuff going on. But this is expansion. It's awesome. Everything we're doing here, we're trying to do it right."
At any given time, there are about 225 workers on the job site — the whereabouts of all of them tracked with an app that gets data from a chip attached to the back of their hard hats. If there's lightning in the area, work gets halted for 30 minutes until the cell passes. And that's a big deal, because even with next season still months away every minute counts.
Nothing is ready, yet — but it will be.
"The way it was built out, we're thinking of the athlete first from the minute they walk in," said Jacklyne Ramos, the team's vice president of communications as she stood inside what will be the building containing the locker room and other key spaces for the team. "The main stadium, that's for the games. Where we are now, this is where they'll live."
The Associated Press got a tour on Monday of what will be Inter Miami's inaugural home. The shell of the team's headquarters — locker rooms, equipment room, dining area, coach's office, what will become the sports performance lab, the academy workout facilities and more — is coming together. Every detail has been thought of; the walk from the players' parking lot to the building will be short, the training room will be small ("I don't want them comfortable in there," McDonough said), and an area will be built just off the outside wall of the locker room to air out cleats after training sessions.
"They'll never be in the building," McDonough said. "Boots can stink."
Beckham spent about five years trying to get MLS back in South Florida, and after many sites were considered — there's still plans for the team to eventually play in another stadium that Beckham and his partner Jorge Mas want built in Miami — they settled on the former Lockhart site. Lockhart is where the MLS' Miami Fusion played from 1998-2001, eventually folding because of poor attendance.
Inter Miami plans to play in Fort Lauderdale until the Miami stadium is complete, but what they're building at the Lockhart site is permanent; the training complex will remain the facility for Inter Miami's MLS, USL League One and academy teams.
The centerpiece of everything is the 18,000-seat stadium, and parts of what will become the field are already largely marked off. Drainage was installed first, followed by four inches of rock for a base. From there, sprinklers go into place and four thin pieces of wood are set in place to mark where the goalposts will go. About a foot of soil will be added in the coming weeks, watered and compacted and graded. Sod is scheduled to go in Nov. 14; from there, it'll be protected and fenced off and finally, what now seems like an oversized sand pit right now will look like a place to play soccer.
Behind that are more fields, including a turf one that can be used for high school football and other events. The other half-dozen grass fields will be for training and the team's affiliate clubs.
A coach will be hired soon. A roster is coming. There are plans for a soft opening a few weeks before the season and then, when the first match is played, all the mess and chaos will be forgotten.
"I wasn't ready for this. I'm still not," McDonough said. "I'm learning as we go. Conduits, positioning of poles, there's so many things that you don't realize until you live it. But that's what it takes and we're getting it done."