Lewis Hamilton on top as Mercedes dominate Formula One opening practice

Defending six-time champion Lewis Hamilton topped the times at Friday’s opening practice at the belated and surreal season-opening Austrian Grand Prix. (Reuters)
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Updated 03 July 2020

Lewis Hamilton on top as Mercedes dominate Formula One opening practice

  • Lewis Hamilton tops times ahead of Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas at season-opening Austrian Grand Prix

SPIELBERG, Austria: Defending six-time champion Lewis Hamilton topped the times ahead of Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas as Formula One roared back at Friday’s opening practice at the belated and surreal season-opening Austrian Grand Prix.
Three months after the cancelation of the original campaign starter in Australia and six months on from the last race meeting, it was business as usual for the dominant black arrows with Max Verstappen third for Red Bull ahead of McLaren’s Ferrari-bound Carlos Sainz.
After a slow start on a damp surface at the Red Bull Ring, following overnight rain, Hamilton, sporting a new Black Lives Matter helmet to match his black race suit, was on the pace immediately in his W11 car of the same color, repainted from silver this year to support equality and diversity.
It was as if the lengthy delay created by the COVID-19 pandemic had no effect on the teams, cars and drivers other than Ferrari whose new SF91 machine was, as forecast, unable to match the pace set at the front by Mercedes.
Ferrari plan to revise their car with updates for the Hungarian race in two weeks’ time following the second event in Austria next week.
Four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, who is set to leave the outfit at the end of the year, struggled to 12th, two places behind team-mate Charles Leclerc, in the eerie surroundings of the fan-less circuit in the Styrian Alps where pit-stops were curiously controlled with all the mechanics in masks and protective gear.
In mild weather conditions, with track temperatures measured at 22 degrees Celsius compared to 57 degrees for last year’s race, Mercedes had no cooling problems as Hamilton outpaced Bottas by three-tenths and was six-tenths clear of Verstappen.
Sergio Perez was fifth in Racing Point’s ‘pink Mercedes’ ahead of Lando Norris in the second McLaren, Alex Albon in the other Red Bull and McLaren-bound Daniel Ricciardo of Renault. Kevin Magnussen was ninth for Haas.
The session saw Verstappen recover from a spin at Turn One and Daniil Kvyat of Alpha Tauri run off at the final corner, causing Williams’ George Russell to take dramatic avoiding action while Romain Grosjean was stuck in the Haas garage with brake problems throughout the session.


Rain causes fresh delay to England-Pakistan 2nd Test

Updated 15 August 2020

Rain causes fresh delay to England-Pakistan 2nd Test

  • Pakistan, 1-0 down in a three-match series, will resume on 223-9 in their first innings
  • Mohammad Rizwan is not out at 60

SOUTHAMPTON, United Kingdom: Rain meant there was no play before lunch on the third day of the second Test between England and Pakistan at Southampton on Saturday in a match already plagued by stoppages for bad weather.
Play should have resumed at 11:00 am local time (1000 GMT) but light rain meant the pitch and square remained fully covered, with the floodlights then on full beam.
Had the players been on the field, play may well have continued given the rain was only of the ‘spitting’ kind.
But, with no spectators present in a series being played behind closed doors because of the coronavirus, the floodlights were then switched off in a clear indication the umpires had decided there would not be any action before lunch.
Pakistan, 1-0 down in a three-match series, will resume on 223-9 in their first innings, after winning the toss, following a second day where only 40 overs’ play took place.
Mohammad Rizwan batted with huge skill and resolve in overcast, swing-friendly conditions, to be 60 not out.
In partnership with dogged tailender Mohammad Abbas (two off 20 balls), the wicketkeeper took Pakistan past 200 in a ninth-wicket after they had come together with the tourists struggling at 176-8.
This was Rizwan’s second fifty in eight career Tests following his 95 against Australia in Brisbane in November.
Pakistan were also indebted to opener Abid Ali (60) and Babar Azam (47) for painstaking innings when the conditions were stacked against the batsmen.
Meanwhile in-form paceman Stuart Broad became the first England bowler since off-spinner Graeme Swann 11 years ago to take at least three wickets in seven consecutive Test innings thanks to a return of 3-56 in 25 overs.
Broad has taken 25 wickets in four Test so far this season at a misery average of 12.88.
Victory in this match will see England secure their first series win over Pakistan since 2010.