Wolff on prowl to solve his motor mys­tery

Motor sport: Mercedes per­for­mance ques­tioned

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen) - - SPORT -

Mercedes lead both the driv­ers’ and con­struc­tors’ cham­pi­onships but team ex­ec­u­tive Toto Wolff con­cedes they head to Ja­pan scratch­ing their heads over the in­con­sis­tency of their per­for­mances.

Lewis Hamil­ton fin­ished sec­ond at the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sun­day to open up a 34-point lead on main ti­tle ri­val Se­bas­tian Vet­tel, who fin­ished fourth hav­ing started from the back of the grid.

Max Ver­stap­pen took the race win hav­ing passed pole-sit­ter Hamil­ton at the start of lap four and then pulling away from the Bri­ton with ease. Vet­tel, too, was quicker than his cham­pi­onship ad­ver­sary for much of the race. Hamil­ton had won in Sin­ga­pore af­ter Vet­tel, Ver­stap­pen and Kimi Raikko­nen crashed out at the start and he was for­tu­itous in Sepang when Vet­tel was un­able to set a time in qual­i­fy­ing due to engine trou­ble.

Now the teams head to Ja­pan with Wolff con­ced­ing all is not well at Mercedes de­spite lead­ing in 2017.

“Full credit to Red Bull and Ferrari for their per­for­mances, but we have un­der­per­formed in Sin­ga­pore and Kuala Lumpur – this is what we need to con­cen­trate on,” he said.

“I think we have built a points ad­van­tage to Ferrari in the last two races be­cause of them shunt­ing out in Sin­ga­pore and Se­bas­tian’s engine prob­lems here in qual­i­fy­ing.

“If they had per­formed as they should have we would not have in­creased our points ad­van­tage but lost many points to them.

“We need to un­der­stand why we un­der­per­form on cer­tain cir­cuits and in cer­tain am­bi­ent con­di­tions.

“I think we have a capri­cious car that has a very nar­row oper­at­ing win­dow with the tyres. Dip­ping in and out of the win­dow is the fun­da­men­tal story of 2017 for us.”

Wolff did also de­fend this sea­son’s Mercedes car, which has won nine of the 15 races of the year to date.

“We must not for­get we are talk­ing about the car that leads the con­struc­tors cham­pi­onship and leads the driv­ers’ cham­pi­onship, it is not a lame duck,” he added.

Mean­while Vet­tel in­sists he is con­fi­dent of reel­ing in Hamil­ton af­ter Ferrari proved they have the fastest car head­ing into the fi­nal five races.

He said: “I think we are quicker. It has been a dif­fi­cult week­end but nev­er­the­less the speed is promis­ing.” Dai claim­ing two wick­ets apiece and leav­ing Scot­land in need of a strong start to­day.

Ran­gana Herath made his­tory as the first left-arm spin­ner to reach 400 Test wick­ets as Sri Lanka bowled Pak­istan out for 114 to pull off a re­mark­able 21run win in Abu Dhabi.

Sri Lanka’s hopes of in­flict­ing a first ever de­feat on the hosts at the Sheikh Zayed Sta­dium ap­peared slim af­ter they were bowled out for 138 and could there­fore set Pak­istan only 136 to win.

But vet­eran Herath (six for 43) and his fel­low fin­ger spin­ner Dil­ruwan Per­era (three for 46) had other ideas.

Sri Lanka re­sumed on 69 for four on the fi­nal morn­ing and dou­bled that to­tal for the loss of their last six wick­ets as leg-spin­ner Yasir Shah

l(five for 51) did most dam­age.

Niroshan Dick­wella re­mained de­fi­ant, how­ever, and when Pak­istan’s bats­men then hit al­most im­me­di­ate trou­ble it be­came clear the Sri Lanka wick­et­keeper’s un­beaten 40 could well be sig­nif­i­cant. So it proved as Herath fin­ished the match with his 400th wicket when num­ber 11 Mo­ham­mad Ab­bas was last out lbw, and it will be Sri Lanka who start the sec­ond and fi­nal Test with a 1-0 lead in Dubai on Fri­day.

South Africa made short work of Bangladesh early on the fi­nal day of the first cricket Test to com­plete a 333run vic­tory in Potchef­stroom yes­ter­day.

Faf du Plessis’ men were with­out in­jured

lseamer Morne Morkel but ran through the tourists none­the­less as left-arm spin­ner Ke­shav Ma­haraj (four for 25) and fast bowler Kagiso Rabada (three for 33) did the dam­age in a to­tal of 90 all out.

Bangladesh re­sumed on 49 for three in no­tional pur­suit of 424 but were able to sum­mon pre­cious lit­tle re­sis­tance. Joanna Blair, the 2016 Bri­tish javelin cham­pion, has been pro­vi­sion­ally suspended af­ter fail­ing a drugs test. The 31-year-old from Lu­ton rep­re­sented Great Bri­tain this sum­mer at the Euro­pean team cham­pi­onships in Lille but failed to qual­ify for the world cham­pi­onships in Lon­don. Blair threw a per­sonal best of 57.44 me­tres – three me­tres fur­ther than her pre­vi­ous best – to win her Bri­tish ti­tle, beat­ing 2008 Olympic bronze medal­list Goldie Sayers into sec­ond place. Non-league High­land Bears came close to a big upset in bas­ket­ball’s Scot­tish Men’s Cup in In­ver­ness when they led Scot­tish First Di­vi­sion side Stir­ling Knights by five points with two minutes to go. Knights, how­ever, lev­elled the scores at the end of the reg­u­la­tion pe­riod 62-62 and went on to dom­i­nate the ex­tra five minutes for a 78-69 vic­tory. Bears are still in the Scot­tish Chair­man’s Cup and have an­other home draw against West Loth­ian Wolves. Late en­tries will be ac­cepted on 01309 672250 for the open pairs Rus­sian sta­ble­ford at For­res Golf Club on Satur­day. Late en­tries are be­ing ac­cepted for Old­mel­drum Golf Club’s texas scram­ble open on Satur­day on 01651 873555. World ten­nis num­ber one Gar­bine Mugu­ruza’s China Open is over at the firstround stage af­ter she re­tired against Barbora Strycova, calling time on her match with the Czech when trail­ing 6-1, 2-0.

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