Wolff on prowl to solve his motor mystery
Motor sport: Mercedes performance questioned
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.