Wednesday 31 August 2011

No F1 Turkey for 2012

The Turkish Grand Prix has been dropped from next year's Formula 1 calendar which has been published by the sport's governing body, the FIA.

In July, F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone handed out a schedule that omitted Turkey and it has now been ratified.

The Istanbul track has hosted a race since 2005 and though it provided good races, attendances have been poor.

Bahrain returns to the 20-race calendar after being dropped this year following civil unrest in the country.

The Middle Eastern country was originally pencilled in for late in the 2012 campaign, but the new calendar sees the round at the Sakhir circuit scheduled for 22 April.

Australia's Melbourne Park circuit will once again host the season's curtain raiser on 18 March with Brazil wrapping things up eight months later on 25 November.

The United States Grand Prix at the new purpose-built Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, has moved from June to November when conditions should be cooler.

Earlier this month, Indian motor sport federation president Vicky Chandhok voiced concerns about the Indian Grand Prix's proposed 22 April date when temperatures in the region hover around the 40C mark.

"I am not happy with April because it's going to be hot," Chandhok said.

However, the race in New Delhi has now been confirmed as the 17th race on the calendar on 28 October.2012 FORMULA 1 CALENDAR

18 March - Australia (Melbourne)

25 March - Malaysia (Sepang)

15 April - China (Shanghai)

22 April - Bahrain (Sakhir)

13 May - Spain (Barcelona)

27 May - Monaco (Monte Carlo)

10 June - Canada (Montreal)

24 June - Europe (Valencia)

8 July - Britain (Silverstone)

22 July - Germany (Hockenheim)

29 July - Hungary (Hungaroring)

2 September - Belgium (Spa-Francorchamps)

9 September - Italy (Monza)

23 September - Singapore (Marina Bay)

7 October - Japan (Suzuka)

14 October - Korea (Yeongam)

28 October - India (New Delhi)

4 November - Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina)

18 November - United States (Austin)

25 November - Brazil (Interlagos)

Murray in Straight Sets Win

Britain's Andy Murray opened his US Open campaign with a straight-sets victory over Somdev Devvarman of India.

Murray, the number four seed, was made to work hard in the early stages but came through 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 6-3.

The 24-year-old Scot was broken in his opening service game but recovered to take the first set on a tie-break.

And with his forehand a particularly effective weapon, Murray dominated the latter stages to set up a meeting with Dutchman Robin Haase in round two.

After waiting until day three to begin his campaign, Murray found Devvarman a stiff test on a hot afternoon in New York.

Murray made a nervous start, dropping serve immediately, and even after getting back on level terms at 3-3 he struggled to break free of the world number 64.

It came down to a tie-break and Devvarman had his chance at 3-1, but a double-fault brought Murray level and the Briton went on to convert his third set point.

The first set had lasted 70 minutes and when Devvarman recovered an early break of serve in the second, a gruelling encounter beckoned, but the Murray forehand began to dictate and he broke twice more to take the set.

A double-break took Murray 4-0 clear in the third set and he would need that cushion after dropping serve at 5-3 with a loose game, eventually converting his second match point after two hours and 27 minutes.

Loughnane Suffers in Daegu Heat

The heat and humidity on the Daegu streets took its toll on Olive Loughnane in the early hours of this morning as the Galway athlete could only manage 16th place in the 20km walk at the World Championships.

A silver medalist in Berlin two years ago, Loughnane was some way off the podium today as the conditions made for a grueling challenge. The Loughrea athlete was dropped from the leading pack when eventual winner Olga Kaniskina upped the pace early in the race.

Although she managed to work her way back to the leading pack, subsequent lifts in pace saw her move further down the field to 23rd place at halfway point, over 23 seconds adrift from the leader. She crossed the line in 18th position four minutes adrift from Kaniskina, who successfully retained her title in a time of 1:29:42.

Kaniskina grimaced her way through downtown Daegu to win the title for a record third time. China's Liu Hong took the silver medal ahead of another Russian, Anisya Kirdyapkina, in third.

Kaniskina, who eclipsed compatriot Olimpiada Ivanova's mark with her third title, crossed the eight seconds ahead of Liu. World record holder Vera Sokolova had looked strong at the head of the field but at the hour mark started to suffer and dropped back to finish in 12th place.

With her tortured face slowly relaxing into relief, Kaniskina thrust her arms into the air to celebrate a third consecutive title as her weary legs dragged her over the line.

The walk was the only action on day five of the championships.

Tomkins Guilty of Misconduct

Wigan full-back Sam Tomkins has been found guilty of minor misconduct over his two-fingered salute to the Leeds fans during Saturday's Challenge Cup final win over the Rhinos.

The 22-year-old England international was disciplined by his club on Monday for the obscene gesture and was given a rap over the knuckles by the Rugby Football League on Tuesday.

Tomkins was found to be in breach of the game's operational rule D1.8(c), which covers improper conduct, and the RFL's Respect Policy.

He was fined £1,000 - suspended until the end of the 2012 season - and also reprimanded and warned about his future behaviour.

Tomkins has 14 days to appeal but will hope that the announcement brings an end to his embarrassment.

He made the v-sign to Leeds supporters while celebrating his side's first try on their way to a 28-18 victory at Wembley.

Tomkins had claimed ignorance when asked about the incident after the match, even though photographs circulating on Twitter by then appeared to provide damning evidence against him.

Tomkins and Wigan issued a public apology over the incident on Monday night, while the club revealed the player had been censured and fined an unspecified amount.

Wigan chairman and owner Ian Lenagan said the club were "ashamed" of the incident while Tomkins expressed his regret, claiming the gesture was made in the "heat of the moment".

Tomkins is expected to keep his place in the Wigan side for Sunday's penultimate game of the regular Super League season at Warrington, where victory would ensure the champions finish top for the second year in a row.

Meanwhile, Warrington coach Tony Smith is expecting Wigan to remain on a high for Sunday's table-topping crunch clash with his side at the Halliwell Jones Stadium but is warning them it will be tough to complete the elusive double.

The Warriors were back in training on Tueday, three days after their memorable 28-18 Wembley triumph over Leeds, to begin preparations for their penultimate match of the regular Super League season.

Victory over the second-placed Wolves would enable Wigan to retain the League Leaders Shield and put them in pole position going into the play-offs. Defeat would mean the race for top spot going down to the last weekend.

Having guided Warrington to recent back-to-back Cup final triumphs, Smith knows only too well the difficulty in reverting to the bread and butter of the league.

His depleted side lost 40-16 to Hull KR a week after their 2009 win over Huddersfield and last year dismally failed to make a mark in the play-offs, losing to both St Helens and Huddersfield.

Smith believes the mental and physical rigours of a long season could catch up with Wigan but does not believe this weekend is the best time to play them.

"I'd argue the opposite from our experience," said Smith. "We're expecting them to go for it this week and to be at their best.

"Last year we were able to aim up for a short time afterwards. We had a four-day turnaround and went down to Harlequins and put in a pretty good performance.

"It was the weeks following that we found it tough. We found it hard to get ourselves back up the levels we had before the cup.

"We felt fatigued emotionally as well, after playing in front of 70,000 or 80,000 people.

"Whether Wigan will handle it differently to us remains to be seen but it takes some doing. If they manage to do the double, good luck to them, they will have done well.

"We weren't able to do that but we'd certainly like another crack at it one day. They are the sort of challenges I like to be involved in."

Warrington are likely to have utility player Simon Grix back to face Wigan after missing his side's last match, a 25-12 win over Catalan Dragons in Perpignan, with a groin injury.

But back rower David Solomona will sit out Sunday's game after picking up a one-match ban for a dangerous tackle against the Dragons and also undergoing minor surgery on a fractured figure.

"He probably wouldn't have played this week any way," said Smith. "He dislocated his finger in the last couple of minutes of the last game and they had trouble getting it back in."

Full-back Brett Hodgson is unlikely to recover in time from a leg injury, meaning another run-out for Chris Riley, while England forwards Ben Westwood and Adrian Morley remain on the sidelines with long-term injuries.

Broad Urges Twenty20 Focus

England captain Stuart Broad has urged his squad to retain the focus of their Test whitewash of India in Wednesday's Twenty20 international at Old Trafford.

"It's a fresh start but it's important we play with the same authority as we did in the Test series," Broad said.

Broad lost his first game as Twenty20 skipper to Sri Lanka in June,but uncapped Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Alex Hales have since joined the squad.

Batsman Gautam Gambhir has become the latest plyer on India's injured list.

Gambhir visited a specialist as he was still troubled by the concussion he suffered in dropping a catch in the final Test at The Oval, and was complaining of impaired vision.

He has been advised to rest and will now fly home.

The depleted tourists, who already have hard-hitting batsmen Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh, and bowlers Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma and Harbhajan Singh on the sidelines, were soundly beaten in all four Test matches.

Legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar has retired from Twenty20 international cricket and with the large number of absentees, veteran Rahul Dravid is poised for a remarkable international debut in the shortest form of the game at the age of 38.

"We don't want to be a batter light, in this format you want your full top seven batsmen which means Rahul will most likely get a chance," said skipper Mahendra Dhoni, who led the team to the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 title in 2007 and the 50-over World Cup earlier this year.

England will also have a some alterations to their side in Manchester, with only five of the team who beat Australia in the final of the 2010 World T20 in the 13-man squad.

Of the debutants Broad said: "I've seen them on television in the hotels when travelling around, so I am well aware of what they can do.

"What has shone about Jos Buttler is he can calmly flick the ball over the keeper's head and next ball hit it straight 20 rows back."

"Stokesy is a strong guy, a big hitter of the ball. He certainly showed his power in training today, while I know Alex well from Notts.

"He's a tall guy, 6ft 5in, and strikes the ball hard. He has an extremely high strike rate in the Twenty20 format and he's done really well in red ball and white ball cricket. He's an exciting talent."

Regarding the heavy defeat on his captaincy debut, he said: "That game didn't go to plan. We didn't get enough runs on the board. If we get the opportunity to bat first we'll have to set a more competitive total.

"We've talked about ways of doing that as a team and it's about players standing up and taking responsibility.

"We learned from the Sri Lanka defeat and as international cricketers it's exciting to have fresh challenges against a strong Indian team.

"I would expect India to come very hard at us. As you would expect they are a world class ODI side. That is something to be aware of but not something for us to worry about because we need to focus on what we do well as an England team. We are T20 World Champions and we need to look at our strengths and stick to them."

After the one-off international the teams contest a five-match 50-over series, starting at Durham on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Kevin Pietersen, who has been left out of that series, is expected to play on Wednesday despite being hit in the neck by a short delivery from Broad in practice.

England (from): Stuart Broad (capt), Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Jos Buttler, Jade Dernbach, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Craig Kieswetter (wk), Eoin Morgan, Samit Patel, Kevin Pietersen, Ben Stokes, Graeme Swann.

India (from): Mahendra Dhoni (capt & wk), Varun Aaron, Ravichandran Ashwin, Rahul Dravid, Virat Kohli, Praveen Kumar, Vinay Kumar, Amit Mishra, Munaf Patel, Parthiv Patel, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, RP Singh.

Umpires: Rob Bailey and Richard Illingworth

Third umpire: Nigel Llong

Fourth umpire: Michael Gough

Match referee: Jeff Crowe

Djokovic Through as Niland Retires

Conor Niland

Novak Djokovic spent just 44 minutes securing his place in round two of the US Open as Ireland's Conor Niland was forced to retire because of illness.

Niland came through qualifying and was playing the biggest match of his life, but walked onto court apparently suffering with food poisoning.

And when Djokovic went 6-0 5-1 up, an ailing Niland admitted defeat.

"I've been feeling pretty rotten for a couple of days and basically it was bad timing," Niland told BBC Radio 5 live.

Asked if he had considered not playing the match, Niland added: "It was something I wanted to do. I thought maybe if there was a miracle I could do OK, but I wasn't able to eat the last two days so I had nothing in my legs energy-wise.

"It was great to qualify. I got a lot out of it and I still got quite a bit out of today.

"Obviously the timing seems pretty cruel to me. I've been a couple of years without getting any sort of food poisoning and to get it two days before the biggest match of my career seems pretty weird."

Not surprisingly, Djokovic had contrasting emotions, saying: "I felt great on the court, and that's something that's really important for the start of the tournament. Today was a great opening performance."

And asked about the shoulder injury that forced him to retire from the recent Cincinnati final, he added: "Today I didn't feel any pain. I served well and I played well, so I have no concern."

Fifth seed David Ferrer and 11th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga made it through, while Rafael Nadal plays later.

Frenchman Tsonga enjoyed a 6-4 6-4 6-4 victory over Yen-Hsun Luof Taiwan opponent to win and set up a meeting with Sergei Bubka, who beat Andreas Haider-Maurer.

Spain's Ferrer will play Jesse Huta Galung or James Blake after seeing off Igor Andreev 2-6 6-3 6-0 6-4.

"That was really good," said Tsonga after beating Lu in two hours and nine minutes on Grandstand court.

"He was a tough opponent and I'm happy to win in straight sets. I've had good preparation - I played well in Montreal, not so well in Cincinnati but I had good time to recover and practice well.

"I feel ready, fit and hopefully I will have some good moments here at the US Open. I feel good here, the fans support me and I hope to do well for them."

Stanislas Wawrinka, the 14th seed who beat Andy Murray in New York last year and could face a rematch with the Briton in round four, beat Maximo Gonzalez 3-6 6-4 6-1 6-3.

And Latvia's Ernests Gulbis had an impressive 6-2 6-4 6-4 win over 16th seed Mikhail Youzhny of Russia.

Tuesday 30 August 2011

Wozniacki Makes Winning Start

World number one Caroline Wozniacki produced a commanding display against Spain's Nuria Llagostera Vives as she made a winning start at the US Open.

Wozniacki won 6-3 6-1 on Arthur Ashe Stadium and will play Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands in round two.

There was a shock on Louis Armstrong Stadium as former junior number one Simona Halep of Romania beat sixth seed and French Open champion Li Na 6-2 7-5.

Title favourite Serena Williams plays Bojana Jovanovski in the night session.

Wozniacki suffered two first-round defeats on her arrival in North America after Wimbledon and was thankful for ending that run with a fourth consecutive New Haven title last week.

"Yeah, I've gotten a couple of losses, but that's what happens," she said.

"I tried a few things that didn't work out but I came back last week and won in New Haven, which was a great feeling.

"I'm number one still and I've just won a tournament, so I'm feeling fine, I'm feeling good."

The American missed last year's US Open and her lengthy absence from the sport meant she has been seeded down at 29th.

Fourth seed Victoria Azarenka and 11th seed Jelena Jankovic also progressed on Tuesday, Azarenka beating Sweden's Johanna Larsson 6-1 6-3 and Jankovic defeating Alison Riske of the United States 6-2 6-0.

"There are always things that could have been done better, but I think I had a pretty solid start," said Azarenka, who could face Serena Williams in the third round.

"I'm not interested about that before I go out there," the Belarusian said of that potential match. "We'll talk about it later maybe."

Wimbledon semi-finalist and 22nd seed Sabine Lisicki eased past Alona Bondarenko 6-3 6-3 to set up a second-round meeting with the unseeded Venus Williams.

Germany's Andrea Petkovic, the 10th seed, defeated Ekaterina Bychkova of Russia 6-2 6-2.

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All Blacks Miss Two for Opener

Kieran Read

New Zealand number eight Kieran Read will miss the opening weeks of the Rugby World Cup with an ankle sprain.

All Blacks loose forward Adam Thomson is also set to miss the opening match against Tonga with an injured elbow.

The pair had scans after picking up the injuries in Saturday's defeat by Australia.

"We're positive on Kieran, the doctor thinks he'll be able to play in the World Cup," said coach Graham Henry.

"I don't think Adam's injured his arm before but it doesn't look good."

All Blacks Doctor Deb Robinson said: "Kieran has torn the ligament between the tibia and fibula at the front of his left ankle.

"While it's still early days in his recovery, with aggressive rehabilitation we are aiming to have him available to play near the end of the round robin.

"Adam's MRI scan shows some swelling around the inside of his elbow which should settle quickly."

Read has 32 international caps and was New Zealand's player of the year in 2010, while Thomson has 17 caps and can play on both sides of the back-row.

Henry conceded his decision to rest players in the lead-up to the Tri-Nations decider in Brisbane had backfired when the All Blacks failed to find anything like top form in the 25-20 Tri-Nations loss to the Wallabies.

Henry also rested a raft of front-line players for the South Africa leg of the tournament but the resulting back-to-back losses have taken the wind out of the All Blacks' sails going into the World Cup on home soil, which starts on 9 September.

"There was some consolation in the way we came back and showed some grit in the second half [on Saturday] but [it was] a disappointing game for us," said Henry.

"I just think we've had an unusual preparation for this Test. Some guys stayed in New Zealand and some guys went to South Africa.

"We thought that was the best step going forward into the Rugby World Cup and it didn't gel for some reason or other. It just didn't gel.

"We'll just have to wait and see how this turns out. If there was some [complacency] there, it won't be there now."

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Pistorius Misses Out on Final

South African Oscar Pistorius' historic appearance at the World Championships came to an end as he failed to qualify for the 400m final.

The first amputee athlete to race in the competition finished last in his semi-final, clocking 45.39 seconds.

"My biggest goal here was to try and make the semi-final which I was able to do," Pistorius told BBC Radio 5 live.

"To have made the final would have been not impossible but it would have taken a miracle."

Olympic and world champion LaShawn Merritt of the United States eased into the 400m final as the fastest qualifier.

Britain's Martyn Rooney failed to make the final after finishing seventh in his semi in 46.09.

Pistorius, a four-time Paralympic champion, got a resounding reception from the 40,000 fans at the Daegu Stadium when he stepped up to the blocks in the third semi-final.

The 24-year-old made his usual slow start, but this time he never recovered, crossing the line last in a time 0.80 secs slower than his heat.

He added: "I think I'm a big realist in the sense that I knew the guys in my race were quicker than me.

"It's been a wonderful opportunity. [It was] not as quick as I wanted to be but it's great to have this platform to run on and it's been an unbelievable experience. I'll be back for the relay."

Pistorius will be allowed to compete in the 4x400m relay - with the heats set to take place on Thursday - providing he runs the opening leg to avoid endangering other athletes with the prosthetics.

Asked whether he could potentially compete at both the Olympics and Paralympics in 2012, Pistorius said: "Yes, most definitely. I've already run one qualification time. I've got to do another between January and June next year but I feel that's very much in reach. I've just got to keep doing what I'm doing."

A congenital condition meant Pistorius was born without fibulae - lower leg bones - and led to the decision to amputate both legs below the knee when he was 11 months old.

As a schoolboy, he preferred rugby union, water polo and tennis but took up running seriously in 2004 after it was suggested as part of his rehabilitation from a rugby injury.

He runs with carbon fibre prosthetic blades in place of his lower legs and was initially banned from competing in able-bodied events by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF).

However, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) overturned the decision in 2008, paving the way for the South African to compete.

In July, the 'Blade Runner' clocked a personal best time of 45.07 in Italy to qualify for the World Championships just inside the cut-off time.

Kaká Not Moving from Madrid

Kaká says he will not be leaving Real Madrid before the close of the summer transfer window even though the Brazilian playmaker is unlikely to be a regular starter under the manager, José Mourinho.

The former world player of the year said: "I have always said I wanted to stay and I haven't changed my mind – I want to stay and I am going to stay."

Kaká came on in the second half to score in Madrid's 6-0 victory at Zaragoza on Sunday. The former Milan midfielder has remained out of the Brazil squad as he tries to rediscover his form following nearly two seasons of battling injuries.

Media reports suggested Kaká, who joined Madrid for a fee of €65m (£58m) in 2009, may be on the move before the 31 August transfer deadline.

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Monday 29 August 2011

Flushing Meadows Escapes Irene

The US Open will start on Monday as planned after Flushing Meadows escaped serious damage from Tropical Storm Irene, officials said on Sunday.

The storm surged through New York in the early hours of Sunday morning, but the city avoided the heavy devastation which had been feared.

"Minimal damage" was caused to the US Open site, officials said.

"We are preparing for the gates to open at 10am [1500 BST] as scheduled," the US Tennis Association said.

"Play around the grounds will commence as close to 11am [1600 BST] as possible."

The first match at the main Arthur Ashe Stadium will start at 1pm

Contador Hearing Set for November

Alberto Contador's doping hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport has been set for 21-24 November.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) and world cycling's governing body UCI are appealing against the Spanish Cycling Federation's decision to acquit him.

The 28-year-old's case was due to be heard before CAS in June but was initially delayed until August.

The hearing will consider Contador's positive test for clenbuterol after the 2010 Tour de France.

The Spanish rider won that race by 39 seconds, ahead of Andy Schleck.

Contador faces a possible two-year ban and losing his Tour de France victory if the Lausanne-based court finds against him.

He was found to have minute traces of clenbuterol in his urine samples days before the Tour began last July.

Clenbuterol is a banned fat-burning, muscle-building drug, but the Spanish cycling federation accepted Contador's explanation that he had inadvertently consumed the drug in contaminated beef.

Wada regards clenbuterol as a zero-tolerance drug, although its rules allow athletes to escape a sanction if they prove "no fault or negligence" on their part.

Casey Stoner Wins Indianapolis

MotoGP championship leader Casey Stoner continued his march towards the title as the Australian took victory at the United States MotoGP in Indianapolis.

The Honda rider, who has finished on the podium in all but one race, came home 4.828 seconds ahead of last year's Indy winner Dani Pedrosa while American Ben Spies was third at the Brickyard.

Spain's world champion Jorge Lorenzo was fourth as he fell further behind Stoner in the MotoGP Championship race.

Stoner now has a 44-point lead.

It was Stoner's third consecutive victory and seventh overall this year as he moved to 243 points having completed 28 laps over the 2.621-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 46 minutes, 52.786 seconds.

"It couldn't have gone much better," said Stoner.

"I made a few mistakes in the first and second corner, Jorge came past and it was really difficult to find a place to overtake.

"Conditions were hard so it was about staying consistent and focused."

Andrea Dovizioso who is third in the Championship was fifth, finishing over 17 seconds behind Stoner, while Valentino Rossi came a disappointing tenth.

Indianapolis MotoGP result and standings:

1. Casey Stoner (Australia) Honda 46mins 52.786secs

2. Dani Pedrosa (Spain) Honda 46:57.614

3. Ben Spies (U.S.) Yamaha 47:03.389

4. Jorge Lorenzo (Spain) Yamaha 47:09.362

5. Andrea Dovizioso (Italy) Honda 47:09.988

6. Alvaro Bautista (Spain) Suzuki 47:23.233

7. Colin Edwards (U.S.) Yamaha 47:32.476

8. Randy de Puniet (France) Ducati 47:46.202

9. Hiroshi Aoyama (Japan) Honda 47:46.576

10. Valentino Rossi (Italy) Ducati 47:48.131

11. Cal Crutchlow (Britain) Yamaha 47:49.970

12. Marco Simoncelli (Italy) Honda 47:52.927

13. Toni Elias (Spain) Honda 47:54.955

14. Nicky Hayden (U.S.) Ducati 26 Laps

1. Casey Stoner (Australia) Honda 243 points

2. Jorge Lorenzo (Spain) Yamaha 199

3. Andrea Dovizioso (Italy) Honda 174

4. Dani Pedrosa (Spain) Honda 130

5. Ben Spies (U.S.) Yamaha 125

6. Valentino Rossi (Italy) Ducati 124

7. Nicky Hayden (U.S.) Ducati 105

8. Colin Edwards (U.S.) Yamaha 84

9. Marco Simoncelli (Italy) Honda 80

10. Hiroshi Aoyama (Japan) Honda 77

11. Hector Barbera (Spain) Ducati 62

12. Alvaro Bautista (Spain) Suzuki 49

13. Karel Abraham (Czech Republic) Ducati 46

14. Toni Elias (Spain) Honda 46

15. Cal Crutchlow (Britain) Yamaha 39

Vettel and Webber Make Red Bull Day

Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber turned the tables emphatically on McLaren and Ferrari to score a dominant Red Bull one-two in a gripping Grand Prix in Belgium on Sunday.

The race began with slow-starting Jaime Alguersuari in the Toro Rosso being hit at La Source by Bruno Senna’s Renault, who later received a drive-through penalty. Further back, Timo Glock hit Paul di Resta’s Force India, the Virgin driver also receiving the same penalty.

Up front, Vettel grabbed the lead, but he and Webber (whose anti-stall ruined his start for the second year in succession) and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso had taken a lot out of their Pirelli tyres in qualifying and knew their life was limited. There had been pre-race moves for the Italian company to supply teams with fresh front tyres, but the FIA would not allow that, nor for any team to make changes to their front camber angles without starting from the pit lane.

Nico Rosberg grabbed the lead for two laps before Vettel passed the Mercedes. Then Webber was the first to pit, on lap three, with Vettel coming in from the lead two laps later. That put Rosberg ahead again until Alonso led for two laps before pitting on lap eight. That put Lewis Hamilton into the lead after a slow start, but the McLaren was also in for fresh rubber by lap 10.

At this stage there was more overtaking up and down the field than you could shake a stick at, a fierce battle between the Ferraris and Hamilton particularly enlivening the fifth lap as they raced wheel-to-wheel and Hamilton followed Alonso’s lead in squeezing by Massa in a breathtakingly brave move on the run down to Pouhon. 

On the ninth lap Webber pulled a spectacular pass on a startled Alonso on the downhill run to Eau Rouge. And a lap later, Vettel went round the outside of Rosberg at Blanchimont. This was Grand Prix racing in the grand manner, without any influence from DRS.

The world champion was back in the lead by lap 10, but pitted when the safety car came out on 13. Hamilton had been pushing back up after his stop and had climbed to fifth, chasing Vettel, Rosberg, Webber and Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi who had yet to make a pit stop. But the Sauber was still closer than Hamilton had expected at Les Combes and he moved over too much to take the line and caught his left rear wheel on Kobayashi’s right front.

The contact spun the McLaren anti-clockwise into a very heavy shunt with the barriers, ringing his bell and triggering the safety car intervention. Adrian Sutil, Rubens Barrichello, Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button, Daniel Ricciardo, Jarno Trulli and Jerome D’Ambrosio also pitted like Vettel, and by the time the race resumed the order on lap 18 was Vettel (who had passed Alonso going up Kemmel on lap 17), Alonso, Webber, Rosberg and Felipe Massa.

Behind them Sutil fended off Schumacher, who had piled up from his back-row start, Button, whose rear wing had been savaged by Di Resta in the opening lap melee, Vitaly Petrov and Sergio Perez.

Vettel steadily pulled away from the Ferrari, and now clearly owned the race. So it became a matter of whether the Ferrari could hang on in second. It couldn’t. Webber began to haul it in after a long stint on the medium Pirelli tyre, and after the final stops around the 30-lap mark the Australian slashed a four-second deficit and overtook the red car with DRS on the 37th lap going up the hill after Eau Rouge.

By this stage Button’s race had finally started to come alive, and a strong drive saw him picking people off until he was Alonso’s big threat over the final laps. He decimated a 6.8s gap to the Ferrari and dived past it at Les Combes on the 42nd lap. After Hamilton’s accident, that was a big boost for McLaren in a race they had expected to win.

In the end Schumacher took fifth for Mercedes after team mate Rosberg was instructed to ‘save fuel’, and Sutil got some respite when the challenging Petrov also had to go into conservation mode and was passed by Massa, who had to make a third pit stop after picking up a puncture. Petrov hung on for ninth ahead of Pastor Maldonado who took the final point - his first in F1 - for Williams ahead of Di Resta and Kobayashi.

Senna recovered from his drive-through to take a disappointed 13th, leading home the Lotuses of Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen both of which lost ground when they were forced to a halt in the first-corner mayhem.

Barrichello was 16th after a late stop necessitated when he damaged his front wing on the back of Kobayashi while challenging him going into the chicane, as local boy D’Ambrosio brought his Virgin home ahead of team mate Glock.

Tonio Liuzzi was the final finisher, with everyone from Trulli downwards a lap behind. The HRT driver’s team mate Ricciardo retired, as did Perez after a drive-through for an incident with Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi and a series of pit stops. Besides Hamilton and Alguersuari, whose steering and front suspension were damaged when Senna hit him, Buemi also failed to make it home after running as high as sixth on the opening lap and being a points contender until damage to his rear wing sustained early on caused it to collapse after six laps.

In the drivers’ championship Vettel looks increasingly omnipresent with 259 points, ahead of Webber on 167, Alonso on 157, Button on 149 and Hamilton on 146. Massa remains sixth with 74, but Schumacher’s fifth hoists him clear of the ninth-place scrap with 42 points to Rosberg’s 56. In the constructors’, Red Bull had a very profitable day, garnering 43 points to bring their leading score to 426 ahead of McLaren on 295 and Ferrari on 231.