‘I couldn’t see where I was going,’ says Lewis Hamilton after Austria rain masterclass

Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton stears his car during the qualifying for the Formula One Styrian Grand Prix on July 11, 2020 in Spielberg, Austria. (AFP)
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Updated 11 July 2020

‘I couldn’t see where I was going,’ says Lewis Hamilton after Austria rain masterclass

  • After a disappointing practice day on Friday, the six-time world champion bounced back to his best

SPIELBERG, Austria: Lewis Hamilton said he survived some “heart in the mouth” moments on Saturday as he claimed a spectacular pole position in treacherous rain-swept conditions for Sunday’s Styrian Grand Prix.
After a disappointing practice day on Friday, the six-time world champion bounced back to his best as he outpaced nearest rival Max Verstappen of Red Bull by more than 1.2 seconds.
His dramatic demonstration of supreme skill and speed on a wet track at the Red Bull Ring increased his record total of pole positions to 89.
“Honestly, I am pleased with that,” he said.
“What a tricky day! The weather is obviously incredibly difficult out there for all of us and, a lot of the time, you cannot actually see where you are going.
“I had one big moment, on the lap before last, when I had a big aquaplane.
“I had my heart in my mouth, but I was able to improve on the last lap, nice and clean. I love these days.”
The 35-year-old Briton had struggled with set-up issues on his Mercedes in Friday’s practice sessions, but said the team had resolved them and he was confident about Sunday’s race, whatever the conditions.
“Yesterday was a difficult day,” said Hamilton.
“It started off well in FP1 and then in FP2 there was a big issue for us, but we discovered it overnight — nothing major.
“I think today would have been better for us if it had been dry, but I am grateful for the rain, like always! I love these kind of conditions.
“Tomorrow looks like a much sunnier day, but we are prepared for both conditions and that’s where I want to start.
“So, I am glad it was a trouble-free session with no mistakes. That’s always a positive.”
Hamilton’s performance enabled him to prove also that his form has not been affected by his passionate support for the global Black Lives Matter movement and the anti-racism efforts launched in Formula One.
“I don’t feel like I need to refocus,” he said this week after finishing fifth in last Sunday’s season-opening Austrian Grand Prix on the same circuit, won by his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
“My race was pretty strong. I need to do a better job, but I wouldn’t say I was distracted. I am focused on both — trying to fight and win this championship, but also fighting for equal rights.”
On Thursday, he said he was hoping to be able to take the knee again — as he and 13 other drivers did before last Sunday’s race — and was seeking a way to make this possible.
“If I can find a way of making sure it doesn’t get in the way of us doing our job, then I will,” he said.


Team UAE rider Pogacar claims maiden Tour de France title

Updated 51 min 42 sec ago

Team UAE rider Pogacar claims maiden Tour de France title

  • Tadej Pogacar youngest man to win the race since Henri Cornet in 1904
  • Pogacar also won three stages in one of the most brilliant individual performances in recent Tour history

PARIS: Tadej Pogacar became the first Slovenian to win the Tour de France after he retained the yellow jersey in the 21st stage on Sunday, a day after he pulled off a major coup to take the overall lead.
While Sam Bennett won the final stage, the day belonged to Team UAE Emirates rider Pogacar, who will celebrate his 22nd birthday on Monday and is the youngest man to win the race since Henri Cornet in 1904.
Pogacar, who claimed the yellow jersey from a stunned Primoz Roglic with a monumental performance in Saturday’s time trial, also won the white jersey for the best Under-25 rider and the polka dot jersey for the mountains classification.
Roglic ended up second, 59 seconds behind, with Australian Richie Porte taking third place, 3:30 off the pace.
“This is an incredible feeling, standing here in Paris on the top of the podium. It was an amazing three weeks, an incredible journey,” said Pogacar after the first one-two for one country since Bradley Wiggins finished ahead of fellow Briton Chris Froome in 2012.
“I want to thank all those who made it happen. It was three memorable weeks on the French roads, with incredible crowds. I won’t find the words to express my feelings.”
Pogacar also won three stages in one of the most brilliant individual performances in recent Tour history, leaving Roglic’s dominant Jumbo-Visma team wondering what went wrong.
“We didn’t see it coming,” said Roglic’s team mate and former Tour runner-up Tom Dumoulin.
Bennett became the first Irishman since Sean Kelly in 1989 to win the green jersey for the points classification, ahead of Peter Sagan who was looking to claim it for a record-extending eighth time.
Bennett was the strongest at the end of the 122-km ride from Mantes-la Jolie on Sunday, beating world champion Mads Pedersen, with Sagan coming home third.
Swiss Marc Hirschi, the former Under-23 world champion was voted the most aggressive on the race after notably taking a brilliant win in the longest stage of the 107th edition.
Ineos-Grenadiers had a Tour to forget as defending champion Egan Bernal dropped out of contention in the Jura stage to the Grand Colombier, pulling out a few days later with back pains.
They recovered some pride later on, however, as Michal Kwiatkowski, their unsung hero for five years, claimed an emotional stage win — although that was certainly not enough for a team who had won seven of the previous eight editions.
It was an anti-climatic finale on the Champs-Elysees as only 5,000 fans were allowed on the famous avenue as a precaution against the coronavirus.
France reported 13,498 new confirmed COVID-19 cases over the previous 24 hours on Saturday, setting another record in daily additional infections since the start of the epidemic.
Reaching the Champs-Elysees was, however, a relief for organizers, who had imposed strict sanitary rules to protect the race ‘bubble’.
The bubble did not burst as only four team staff members tested positive and were removed from the race, preventing a spread that could have stopped the Tour.
No rider tested positive.