Mercedes dom­i­nates

First Hamil­ton and then Ros­berg led tim­ings in Malaysian GP prac­tice ses­sions

Weekend Witness - - Sport - SA’s top road run­ner is con­fi­dent that she’s in top form for Den­mark

SEPANG — Mercedes un­der­lined their su­pe­ri­or­ity in the new For­mula One sea­son as first Lewis Hamil­ton and then Nico Ros­berg led the tim­ings in the Malaysian Grand Prix prac­tice ses­sions yes­ter­day.

Hamil­ton topped the open­ing ses­sion with his team­mate third, and it was Ros­berg, win­ner of the sea­son­opener in Aus­tralia, who took con­trol in the later run­out.

Both driv­ers car­ried the mes­sage, “#TributeToMH370”, on their cars as Malaysia mourns 239 people pre­sumed dead in a dis­ap­peared pas­sen­ger jet. To­mor­row’s race will be pre­ceded by a minute’s si­lence.

While yes­ter­day’s prac­tice has lit­tle bear­ing on the race weekend, Mercedes will be pleased to have ex­tended the dom­i­nance they showed in Aus­tralia — al­though it was tight at the top in the sec­ond ses­sion.

Ros­berg’s time of 1 min 39,909 was three hun­dredths ahead of Fer­rari’s Kimi Raikko­nen, with world cham­pion Se­bas­tian Vet­tel im­prov­ing to within six hun­dredths for third spot. The top 11 driv­ers were all within one sec­ond of each other.

Hamil­ton, who veered off the track in both out­ings, was fourth in the sec­ond ses­sion ahead of Fer­rari’s Fer­nando Alonso, Wil­liams’s Felipe Massa, Red Bull’s Daniel Ric­cia­rdo and Jen­son But­ton of McLaren.

Lo­tus’s Pas­tor Mal­don­ado and Caterham’s Ka­mui Kobayashi both sat out the sec­ond ses­sion for re­pairs as their dis­mal start to the sea­son con­tin­ued. And Lo­tus had an­other set­back when Ro­main Gros­jean had to pit early for re­pairs be­fore re­turn­ing late on — when he suf­fered an­other prob­lem with his gears and had to re­tire.

Jean­Eric Vergne spun and Nico Hulken­berg, who went fastest early in the sec­ond ses­sion, ran wide into the gravel as han­dling prob­lems per­sisted with this year’s new For­mula One cars.

“It’s re­ally not han­dling well,” grum­bled Den­mark’s Kevin Mag­nussen, clas­si­fied sec­ond for McLaren in his de­but F1 race two weeks ago, while Raikko­nen later com­plained, “My rear tyres are slid­ing around”.

Ros­berg hit the front about a third of the way into the 90minute run and he was later joined by Hamil­ton at the top of the timesheets as Mercedes showed their su­pe­rior adap­ta­tion to this year’s wide tech­ni­cal changes. But Raikko­nen then di­vided the team­mates as he went sec­ond and Vet­tel also timed quicker than Hamil­ton as the Red Bull of the four­time world cham­pion, who lasted only a few laps in Mel­bourne, showed en­cour­ag­ing signs.

Ric­cia­rdo is fight­ing his dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion from sec­ond in Mel­bourne over fuel ir­reg­u­lari­ ties, and his ses­sion ended when he ran wide and took an ex­tended trip through the track­side gravel and grass. — Sapa­AFP.

1. Nico Ros­berg (GER) Mercedes 1:39.909, 2. Kimi Raikko­nen (FIN) Scud­e­ria Fer­rari 1:39.944, 3. Se­bas­tian Vet­tel (GER) Red Bull Rac­ing 1:39.970, 4. Lewis Hamil­ton (GBR) Mercedes 1:40.051, 5. Fer­nando Alonso (ESP) Scud­e­ria Fer­rari 1:40.103, 6. Felipe Massa (BRA) Wil­liams 1:40.112, 7. Daniel Ric­cia­rdo (AUS) Red Bull Rac­ing 1:40.276, 8. Jen­son But­ton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes 1:40.628, 9. Valt­teri Bot­tas (FIN) Wil­liams 1:40.638, 10. Nico Hulken­berg (GER) Force In­dia 1:40.691

1. Lewis Hamil­ton (GBR) Mercedes 1:40.691, 2. Kimi Raikko­nen (FIN) Scud­e­ria Fer­rari 1:40.843, 3. Nico Ros­berg (GER) Mercedes 1:41.028, 4. Jen­son But­ton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes 1:41.111, 5. Kevin Mag­nussen (DEN) McLaren Mercedes 1:41.274, 6. Jean­Eric Vergne (FRA) Toro Rosso 1:41.402, 7. Se­bas­tian Vet­tel (GER) Red Bull Rac­ing 1:41.523, 8. Nico Hulken­berg (GER) Force In­dia 1:41.642, 9. Felipe Massa (BRA) Wil­liams 1:41.686, 10. Valt­teri Bot­tas (FIN) Wil­liams 1:41.830. JO­HAN­NES­BURG — Top South African road run­ner René Kalmer is con­fi­dent she is in top shape ahead of the IAAF World Half Marathon Cham­pi­onships in Copen­hagen, Den­mark, to­day.

“Last year was a tough year for me. I bat­tled with in­juries through­out,” she said, af­ter pick­ing up a calf in­jury in the Bos­ton Marathon last April.

“For­tu­nately, things got bet­ter for me in the sec­ond half of the year, where I started im­prov­ing on my per­for­mances.”

She re­gained her form and went on to win the SA Half Marathon Cham­pi­onships. She fin­ished sec­ond at the Two Oceans Half Marathon and in the Women’s 10 km Grand Prix se­ries.

“This year has been good so far — my train­ing has been go­ing well and I’m in good shape.”

The Olympian, who will be com­pet­ing in her third World Half Marathon Cham­pi­onships, said she looked to im­prove on past per­for­mances af­ter fin­ish­ing 14th in the United King­dom in 2009, in a per­sonal best time of one hour, 10 min­utes and 37 sec­onds (1:10:37). In Bul­garia in 2012, she came 16th in 1:13:16.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to the race. It has been my fo­cus for the first part of the year.

“I hope to bet­ter my 2009 po­si­tion, as well as my per­sonal best time.”

Kalmer was named as part of the six­per­son team to rep­re­sent South Africa at the in­ter­na­tional show­piece.

Stephen Mokoka, Lusapho April and Elroy Ge­lant will line up in the men’s race, while SA marathon cham­pion Cor­nelia Jou­bert and Jenna Chal­lenor will join Kalmer in the women’s race.

Chal­lenor fin­ished third at last year’s SA half marathon cham­pi­onships in East Lon­don, clock­ing a per­sonal best of 1:16:21.

Mokoka, who is the best chal­lenger in the men’s team, holds a per­sonal best of 1:00:57 in the half marathon. He posted the best fin­ish by a South African at the 2009 and 2012 cham­pi­onships, fin­ish­ing in eighth po­si­tion in both events.

Kalmer said the event pre­sented a dif­fi­cult as­sign­ment for the South African team.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to com­pet­ing with such a world­class field, which in­cludes the Kenyans and Ethiopi­ans.

“We are an in­ex­pe­ri­enced team, and it’s im­por­tant for us not to get stressed out and ner­vous, but rather fo­cus on gain­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence for fu­ture events and im­prove on our times.” — Sapa.


Lewis Hamil­ton of Great Bri­tain and Mercedes GP dur­ing yes­ter­day’s prac­tice ses­sion for this weekend’s Malaysia For­mula One Grand Prix at the Sepang Cir­cuit.


Fer­rari’s Kimi Raikko­nen was pleased with his per­for­mance at yes­ter­day’s Malaysian Grand Prix prac­tice ses­sion.

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