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Luxury escapes: Aussies book Orpheus Island, Hamilton Island, Lord Howe Island and more


High-end travel is surging as direct result of coronavirus, with Australians who feel they deserve a special break post-lockdown trading up and splashing hard-earned dollars once intended for overseas trips on luxury domestic holidays.

Luxury lodges, retreats and hotels are filling up fast for months ahead, with some service providers recording a ten-fold jump in bookings year-on-year.

Luxury Escapes, who package special locations together with VIP inclusions, have booked more than 1000 trips with a nightly rate exceeding $1000 in the three months to September, compared to less than 100 this time last year.

Chief customer officer, Jason Shugg, said strong booking numbers show the Aussie desire for travel is alive and well — a trend reflected across the price spectrum and highlighted by the Go And Get campaign backing domestic tourism.

ESCAPE SNAPS LOGO

“The behavioural change we are seeing is twofold,” Mr Shugg said. “People are either upgrading their experiences within Australia or they’re travelling for longer, as this is now their primary trip of the year.

“In the end Australian tourism will be the winner as they’ve got a captive market for the next six to 12 months at least.”

Packages to the exclusive Berkeley River Lodge in Western Australia and Orpheus Island in Queensland sold out within a week and immediate weekend availability at Jamala Wildlife Lodge in the ACT was gone within a day.

Orpheus Island in Queensland.

Berkeley River Lodge in WA.

Demand has kept occupancy at the exclusive qualia resort on Hamilton Island at around 85 to 90 per cent and has led to an increase in flights with a daily direct flight from Brisbane recently added.

Capella Lodge on Lord Howe Island has bookings well into autumn 2021 and Tim Stanhope of Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley in the Blue Mountains said the domestic market has filled the gap left by international visitors.

Supplied Editorial Capella Lodge, Lord Howe Island

Capella Lodge at Lord Howe Island.

Emirates One&Only Resort Wolgan Valley in NSW.

The “trade-up” effect is being reported anecdotally at all levels of the travel market, fuelled by those whose incomes have not been impacted by coronavirus and who have saved money by reducing leisure activities in recent months. Janelle Boyd from NRMA Parks and Resorts said a new market of “five-star campers” has emerged, opting for glamping tents and cabins over campsites.

RELATED: Australia’s hot travel deals right now

However it’s at the top end that the figures are most noticeable.

View Retreats, an online travel booking service that focuses on grander properties, reports customers are paying double on this time last year.

“If we look at the average price people were paying per holiday before COVID-19, it was around $1400 to $1500,” said spokesperson Stoewie Van Den Bulk. “Now it is almost $3000. Property owners are telling us they are overwhelmed with enquiries and bookings, they’re taking bookings as far ahead as August and September 2021.”

Jamala Wildlife Lodge in the ACT has also been popular.

Mark and Jacqui Buckley of Avalon on Sydney’s northern beaches had to cancel a family trip to South America this year due to COVID-19. They have turned their focus to exploring Australia and recently returned from a week at Elements of Byron at Byron Bay.

“We loved it so much there we have booked to go again in the Christmas holidays,” Jacqui said. “I’d love to visit The Pearle at Cable Beach in 2021 and Longitude 131 in the Northern Territory.

“Though it was disappointing to have our South America trip cancelled, Australia has so many amazing destinations.”

Join in the #EscapeSnaps celebration of Australia’s best holiday spots and experiences this weekend — part of the Go And Get It campaign to support domestic tourism. Share your favourite memories or future Aussie dream destinations on Instagram and tag @escape.com.au and #escapesnaps.





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Lewis Hamilton equals Michael Schumacher’s win record at F1 Eifel Grand Prix, Australian Daniel Ricciardo takes first podium since 2018


Lewis Hamilton has matched Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 wins in Formula One with victory in the Eifel Grand Prix as he took another stride toward his seventh championship title.

While the Briton triumphed at the Nürburgring, the German circuit where Ferrari great Schumacher won five times, teammate Valtteri Bottas suffered a huge hit to his title hopes with a first retirement of the season.

Hamilton, celebrating his seventh win of the season, is now 69 points clear of Bottas in the standings with six rounds remaining.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finished second and took a bonus point for fastest lap, with Australian Daniel Ricciardo third for Renault in his first podium since 2018 when he was at Red Bull.

A black formula one race car drives past cheering pit crew
Lewis Hamilton has equalled Michael Schumacher’s all-time record 91 Formula One wins.(REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay)

Schumacher’s son Mick, the Formula Two leader who could be racing against Hamilton next season, presented the Briton with one of his father’s red helmets from his second stint in F1 with Mercedes.

“Congratulations and this is on behalf of all of us. A great achievement, really,” said Mick, whose father suffered serious head injuries in a 2013 skiing accident and has not been seen in public since.

“Thank you so much, it’s such an honour,” said Hamilton before stepping up onto the podium at the circuit closest to Schumacher’s boyhood home in Kerpen.

“I don’t even know what to say,” Hamilton said.

“When you grow up watching someone you generally idolise them, you know, really just in terms of the quality of the driver they are but what they are able to continuously do, year on year and race on race and week on week.”

“So it’s an incredible honour and it’s going to take some time to get used to it.”

Hamilton said he only realised the significance of what he had done when he came into the pitlane after taking the chequered flag.

AP



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Clive Hamilton warns of growing trade tensions


Australian businesses that continue to export a majority of their goods to China must be willing to face the consequences as political tensions grow, an academic warns.

Professor Clive Hamilton, who is banned from entering China, has told a parliamentary trade committee that Beijing has “weaponised” its trade relationships under the rule of Xi Jinping.

Winemakers are the latest to feel the wrath of growing tensions between Australia and its biggest trading partner with China in August launching an investigation into the price of imported wine.

“Trade isn’t just trade when it comes to China under the Chinese Communist Party,” Prof Hamilton said.

“The CCP is the foremost practitioner of … economic blackmail as we’ve seen in Australia in recent months.”

The Charles Sturt University public ethics professor said it was dangerous for businesses to assume the relationship with China was like any other nation.

Prof Hamilton said if businesses wanted to keep trading with them, they had to accept the risks.

“They have to understand that they are taking the risk of being used as a form of political manipulation, of becoming a weapon that Beijing will try and use against the Australian government,” he said.

“They should not expect and nor will they ever be given political concessions or compensation.”

He also raised concerns about another Australian export market heavily relying on China – higher education.

“Australian universities are dangerously dependent on flows of revenue from China and the danger is principally the capacity for Beijing to interfere in the academic freedom and free speech on Australian campuses,” Prof Hamilton warned.

“Universities are a special target for CCP influence operations because the party places an enormous emphasis over the struggle for ideas.”

He called for Australia to follow the lead of universities in the US and Canada which have shut down Confucious institutes on their campuses for fear of spies.

“I don’t believe they are appropriate for Australian campuses … we too in Australia should be closing them down.”

Prof Hamilton was last month reportedly banned from entering China, according to state-run media agency the Global Times.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials on Thursday told the committee investigating the diversification of Australia’s trade and investment portfolios that it continues to support businesses to enter new markets.

After China slapped a tariff on Australian barley in May this year, imports had drastically fallen.

“There’s still a small amount of malted barley going into China but we expect that will stop over time,” a spokeswoman said.

The suspension of beef exports from four Australian processors into China in the same month also resulted in a 46 per cent fall between June and August, compared to the previous year.

DFAT spokeswoman Alice Cawte said, economically, China remained an “extremely important” country to Australia.

But Ms Cawte said the relationship was “complex” as there were differences on issues in the region including the South China Sea.



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Daniel Ricciardo overcomes Russian Grand Prix penalty to finish fifth, Lewis Hamilton forced to wait for Michael Schumacher’s record



Daniel Ricciardo has been forced to overcome a five-second penalty at the Russian Grand Prix, finishing fifth as Lewis Hamilton also fell afoul of the rules.

Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, won the race ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, but the drama was further back.

Starting the race from fifth on the grid, his Renault team wanted to give him a crack at Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

Ricciardo’s teammate, Esteban Ocon, slowed to let the Australian pass.

But Ricciardo’s wheels locked up on the next turn, he went off the track, and then re-entered illegally.

He was issued a five-second penalty by the stewards, and when he was told about it on the track, made a typically Ricciardo-esque assessment of the situation.

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“OK, I’ll drive faster,” he said over the team radio.

After the race he told Motorsport.com he knew it was coming, so it was an easy penalty to accept.

“I was like, the only way to eliminate the penalty is to go faster, and build a gap to [Ferrari’s Charles] Leclerc behind me,” he said.

“It was actually quite good in hindsight, it lit a bit of a fire under my bum and I just got on with it. I think that was cool. I was, I guess, proud to not let it get to me.”

Hamilton was less happy to receive his time violations.

He was hit with two five-second penalties for illegal starts during practice, but still managed to finish third.

“I’m pretty sure no-one’s got two five-second penalties for something so ridiculous before,” said the Briton, who had won six of the nine races before Sochi.

Hamilton is one victory away from matching Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 Grand Prix wins and suggested the powers-that-be did not want him to break the the record.

“They’re trying to stop me, aren’t they?” he told Sky Sports.

“It feels like we’re fighting uphill. But it’s OK. It’s not like I haven’t faced adversity before. So we just keep our heads down and keep fighting and keep trying to do a better job and be cleaner and squeaky clean.”

Race director Michael Masi said his “door is always open” and Hamilton could go to an independent judiciary if he had issues with the rulings.

ABC/Reuters



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Lewis Hamilton under investigation by FIA for wearing Breonna Taylor T-shirt at F1 Tuscan Grand Prix


Formula One’s governing body is considering whether Lewis Hamilton broke any rules in wearing a T-shirt with “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor” on it before and after Sunday’s Tuscan Grand Prix.

“We are giving this issue active consideration,” said a spokesman for the sport’s governing body, the International Automobile Federation [FIA].

He added that the discussion was also about how to proceed in future.

Ms Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman, was killed by police officers who burst into her apartment in Louisville, Kentucky, in March.

One police officer involved was fired by the city’s police department in June. Two other officers have been placed on administrative reassignment. No criminal charges have been filed against any of the three.

Demonstrations have continued for several months in Louisville and across the United States.

Hamilton has regularly worn a ‘Black Lives Matter’ T-shirt when taking a knee in an officially-sanctioned anti-racism protest before the start of races this season.

Lewis Hamilton and other drivers take a knee while some drivers stand behind them.
Lewis Hamilton has lead drivers in taking a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement before races this year.(AP: Dan Istitene)

Sunday’s shirt was a departure from that, with a photograph of Taylor on the back and ‘Say her name’.

Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka recently wore a face mask with Taylor’s name at the US Open, with Hamilton on Sunday saying that Osaka had been “an incredible inspiration”.

Race stewards did not open any investigation into Hamilton’s actions at Italy’s Mugello circuit.

It was not immediately obvious in any case what statute Hamilton might have broken.

The FIA, which maintains a non-political stance, is working with the British driver — Formula One’s only black driver — on a diversity commission and has promoted an anti-racism campaign.

The sporting code bars teams from using “political or religious” advertising but does not mention the drivers.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff also made clear he had no problem with whatever Hamilton chose to wear.

“It is entirely his decision. Whatever he does, we will support,” the Austrian told reporters on Saturday.

“The much broader movement is obviously the fight against any kind of racism and discrimination — and we as a team and as a corporation have always put an emphasis to fight against that injustice.”

Reuters



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Lewis Hamilton demands justice for Breonna Taylor after winning ‘hectic’ Tuscan Grand Prix


Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton kept his cool amid the mayhem caused by an unpredictable circuit, winning a crash-marred Tuscan Grand Prix for the 90th win of his incredible career to close in on Michael Schumacher’s record.

Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo took advantage of the chaos to finish fourth in his Renault.

After a standing start with 50 laps to go he found himself in the podium positions following a tactical pit stop.

Ricciardo was as high as second at one point, passing Valtteri Bottas from another standing start, but the superior speed of the Mercedes and Alex Albon’s Red Bull saw him finish fourth.

MotoGP circuit sees chaos unfold

The first F1 race on a Mugello track with super fast corners usually used by MotoGP riders was incident-packed. Two crashes on the first seven laps saw six drivers go out, and a red flag suspended the race for the first time after the second one.

A second red flag late on following Lance Stroll’s heavy crash meant another grid restart — on Lap 46 of 59 — and gave Bottas another chance to beat race leader Hamilton if he made a strong start from second.

“With all those restarts, total focus was needed,” Hamilton said. “It was really, really hard.”

Hamilton held firm and Bottas is now 55 points behind Hamilton, who is odds-on to equal Schumacher’s record of seven F1 titles.

“It was all a bit of daze. It was like three races in one day. Just incredibly tough today,” a relieved Hamilton said.

“This track is phenomenal and keeping Valtteri behind was not easy.”

Bottas pushed hard and got to within 1.1 seconds of Hamilton on the penultimate lap, but the British driver clocked a fastest lap on the last one to take a bonus point.

Albon drove well to finish third and clinch a first career podium that will boost his chances of keeping his seat alongside team star Max Verstappen next year.

‘Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor’

Hamilton can equal Schumacher’s record at the Russian GP in two weeks.

But his focus was elsewhere as he stood on the podium wearing a T-shirt featuring the words: “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor.”

Ms Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency medical technician, was fatally shot by police as officers attempted to serve a no-knock search warrant at her apartment on March 13.

The shooting has sparked months of protests in Louisville, Kentucky, with calls for the officers to be charged over her death.

“Justice for Breonna Taylor,” Hamilton said.

“It took me a long time to get that shirt, and I’ve been wanting to wear that and bring awareness to the fact that there’s people that have been killed on the street and there’s someone that got killed in her own house.”

‘Unacceptable’ incident angers drivers

Max Verstappen's Red Bull in a cloud of dust.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was one of the drivers who crashed out early.(Reuters: Claudio Giovannini)

The race was far from easy for Hamilton, however, and he looked out of breath sitting in his car moments after crossing the line.

He had started from pole position for a record-extending 95th time but was overtaken by Bottas’s brilliant move off the line.

“It was a dream start for me,” said Bottas, who could not profit from it because of the imminent crashes.

Verstappen started third for Red Bull but he and Pierre Gasly crashed moments in, bringing the safety car out on Lap 1.

Verstappen got clipped by Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo after falling back because of engine problems.

Carlos Sainz Jr somehow avoided getting seriously hit when his McLaren spun in the middle of the track, forcing cars to swerve around him.

After the safety car ended, a zig-zagging Bottas backed everyone up.

Some of the cars tightly bunched at the back were early on the throttle after presuming the race was back on, accelerating into the middle of the pack.

Chaos ensued as Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo speared into Kevin Magnussen’s Haas and Nicholas Latifi’s Williams while Sainz then slammed into the back of Giovinazzi.

“It’s really dangerous like that. Those at the front have to think of those behind,” Giovinazzi said. “We were flat out.”

No drivers were hurt but several were angered by the tactics deployed at the front.

“They want to kill us or what?” asked French driver Romain Grosjean, who narrowly avoided crashing. “This is the worst thing I have seen.”

Sainz called the incident “unacceptable”.

When the race re-started it was on the grid, meaning Bottas was on pole ahead of Hamilton.

But Hamilton got a tow on Bottas and passed him easily, and Bottas was nearly eight seconds behind Hamilton when he came in for new tyres on Lap 32.

If he was trying to undercut Hamilton, by forcing him to come in one lap later, it backfired and with 20 laps remaining Hamilton was still six seconds ahead.

Then, Stroll’s Racing Point flew over the gravel and the car’s front smashed into the barriers. The red flag nullified Hamilton’s lead and gave Bottas another shot at victory.

But he failed to take it.

Ferrari reverted back to an age-old burgundy livery for its 1,000th F1 race, reflecting the colour first used by the famed Italian manufacturer. But there was little to celebrate as Charles Leclerc finished eighth and Sebastian Vettel 10th.

AP/ABC



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Daniel Ricciardo finishes fourth, claims fastest lap at Belgian Grand Prix in Spa as Lewis Hamilton dominates


Lewis Hamilton led from start to finish at the Belgian Grand Prix to clinch his 89th career win and move two behind Michael Schumacher’s Formula One record on Sunday.

The world champion was untroubled from pole position, beating his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas by eight seconds and finishing 15 seconds ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

Daniel Ricciardo came home in fourth spot and claimed the bonus world championship point for the fastest lap in his best weekend for Renault.

It was Renault’s first fastest lap in a race since the 2010 Canadian Grand Prix, on a weekend in which the car showed its genuine speed for the first time this season.

“We had a lot of pace, more so on the hard [tyre],” Ricciardo told F1.com.

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“The first lap was fun with Max, we were close. I was ahead and then he got ahead and we were side-by-side for a few corners,” he added of the first lap battle with former teammate Max Verstappen.

“Fourth is good.”

With teammate Esteban Ocon finishing in fifth, Renault claimed 23 points from the weekend’s racing — its best return from a race since it re-joined the pack in 2016.

Ricciardo said his fastest lap of the race, the final of the 44 completed, was “probably better than my qualifying lap yesterday”.

Heading into next weekend’s race at Italy’s famed high-speed Monza circuit, where Renault had its best result of the season, Ricciardo said he had plenty to be positive about.

“This was a good track for us last year, but Monza was even better so we’ll see. We’ll try not to get ahead of ourselves, but I think we can go there with a lot of confidence.”

Daniel Ricciardo drives a yellow formula 1 car
The weekend was Renault’s best since its return to the sport in 2016.(Pool via AP: John Thys)

Hamilton wins ‘boring’ race

Hamilton’s fifth win from seven races this season once again highlighted his class in a vastly superior car, but the six-time world champion acknowledged that F1 fans might be getting a little bored.

“You generally know I don’t make too many mistakes. I can imagine it’s definitely not the most exciting [race],” Hamilton said.

Hamilton extended his championship lead over Verstappen to 47 points with Bottas drifting 50 back in third. Hamilton is favourite to win a seventh title to tie Schumacher’s record.

“I do feel that I’m driving at my best … I am 35 going towards 36 but I feel better than ever,” Hamilton said.

Lewis Hamilton bends his head forward and crosses his hands in front of his chest
Lewis Hamilton honoured Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman on the podium.(Pool Photo via AP: Francois Lenoir)

Bottas vowed, before this season and last, that he could take Hamilton’s crown.

Yet he’s won only one race.

“It’s not over, there are 10 left. I had a puncture in Silverstone, lost a lot of points with that,” Bottas said. “If I gave up now, I’d rather stay home.”

Verstappen, meanwhile, would love a faster car to take the fight to Hamilton, but Red Bull has yet to bridge the gap with Mercedes.

“It was not really enjoyable out there.”

Schumacher won five of his F1 titles consecutively during a glorious era for Ferrari, but the proud Italian team is struggling badly now. Sebastian Vettel finished 13th and Charles Leclerc 14th.

Russell glad for halo after crash

Early into the 44-lap race, Williams driver George Russell and Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi crashed heavily but were both unharmed.

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Last year, Anthoine Hubert died following a horrific crash during the F2 support race.

A minute’s silence was held before the race in memory of the French driver as drivers gathered solemnly around a picture of Hubert on the grid. His racing helmet was placed on a stand.

Giovinazzi lost control of his car and Russell swerved into the barriers to avoid a loose tire from Giovinazzi’s car bouncing across the track.

Both climbed out unhurt, while other drivers crawled at snail-like pace slowly over the debris on their way into the pits for new tires while the safety car was deployed.

“Feeling unlucky and lucky right now,” Russell said.

“Gutted, as we were having a great race, but really glad we have the halo [a mandatory safety bar protecting the driver’s head] on these cars now or it could have been much worse.”

ABC/AP



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Lewis Hamilton wins Formula 1’s Spanish Grand Prix at a canter


Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton cruised to victory in Spain for the fourth year in a row on Sunday to celebrate a record 156th podium finish and stretch his overall lead to 37 points.

The victory from pole position at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya was the 88th of the Mercedes driver’s career, and one of the more straightforward, with all but the top three pursuers lapped on a sweltering afternoon of few thrills.

Hamilton is now just three wins short of Ferrari great Michael Schumacher’s all-time record 91.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, Hamilton’s closest challenger, finished second with Valtteri Bottas third for Mercedes, having taken the fastest lap after a late stop for fresh tyres.

“I was in a different zone — I didn’t even realise it was the last lap,” said Hamilton after finishing 24.177 seconds clear of Verstappen, who started third but grabbed second from Bottas at the start.

“I was just in a daze out there … I was ready to keep going.”

Verstappen has now beaten Bottas in the last four races and been second to Hamilton, who has won four of six, in three of them.

It was a result tinged with disappointment for the Dutchman though, after Mercedes had spent the weekend voicing their concerns over the Red Bull’s pace in the warmer conditions.

Lewis Hamilton 's Mercedes leads a Red Bull car that can be seen in the hazy distance down the straight
Lewis Hamilton was never challenged by the Red Bull of Max Verstappen.(Pool via AP: Bryn Lennon)

That saw frustration boil over at times in the cockpit, as Verstappen exchanged angry messages with his team about the team’s strategy.

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Six-time champion Hamilton now has 132 points to Verstappen’s 95 and Bottas’s 89.

Canadian Lance Stroll took fourth place for Racing Point with Mexican teammate Sergio Perez ahead of him at the finish, but carrying a five-second penalty for ignoring blue warning flags.

Stroll had seized third at the start with an impressive surge past his teammate and Bottas.

“I saw a gap on the inside and went for it, and it really set me up from a great race,” he said.

Spaniard Carlos Sainz was sixth for McLaren and Sebastian Vettel seventh for Ferrari, after doing close to 40 laps on one set of soft tyres, with Red Bull’s Alexander Albon eighth for Red Bull.

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly was ninth and Lando Norris took the final point for McLaren.

Daniel Ricciardo holds his head with one hand and a bottle in the other, sitting slumped next to a wall
The warm conditions took their toll on the drivers, including Daniel Ricciardo.(Pool via AP: Josep Lago)

Daniel Ricciardo finished in 11th spot after a “difficult” race.

“It was tough today and certainly not where we want to be,” Ricciardo told F1.com after the race.

“Obviously, it’s a bit disappointing as we came here expecting much more, especially after two decent races last time out.”

Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul was less circumspect, saying the aerodynamics of the car let them down.

“Put simply, the car is not good enough at a track like this one,” he said.

Ricciardo’s teammate Esteban Ocon finished in 13th spot, saying he lacked grip and balance in the car.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was the sole retirement of the afternoon.

Reuters/ABC



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Max Verstappen wins Formula One’s Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone, Lewis Hamilton second


Max Verstappen told his Red Bull team over the radio he was “not going to drive like a grandma” and he did not, as he went on to win Formula One’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone, breaking Mercedes’ stranglehold on the season.

The comment came from the Dutchman after he was asked to conserve his tyres early on, and the strategy paid off as he took the win by 11.3 seconds from Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, who rounded out the podium positions.

Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo finished 14th in his Renault after starting from fifth on the grid.

Verstappen took advantage of starting the race on a harder compound tyre, which enabled him to stay out longer than both pole-sitter Bottas and Hamilton and claim the first non-Mercedes win of the season.

Consequently, when he finally pitted on lap 26 Verstappen came out just behind Bottas, but on fresher and softer tyres the Red Bull had more pace than the Mercedes and Bottas gave Verstappen an easy pass on his out lap.

It wasn’t the last time Bottas would be passed either, and with three laps remaining and a badly blistered left rear tyre, Hamilton took advantage of his teammate’s predicament and passed him to move into second.

Ultimately he had no chance of catching the flying Dutchman, who went on to claim his ninth Grand Prix victory and his first at the famed English circuit.

The win was the first for Red Bull since November of 2019 when Verstappen won the Brazilian Grand Prix, and the first for the team at the circuit since 2012, when Australia’s Mark Webber won.

It left Verstappen smiling, as the 22-year-old moved into second in the Driver’s Championship, behind Hamilton, who before today had won six of the last eight Grands Prix at the circuit.

“We had a great day. Everything worked out well we had the right strategy, I was quite happy to win,” Verstappen said.

Hamilton questions Pirelli’s balloon-like tyres

Valtteri Bottas sits in his Mercedes F1 car. The tyres are heavily bubbled.
The tyres on both Mercedes cars suffered severe degradation.(Reuters: Ben Stansall)

Both Hamilton and Bottas were left to lament what might have been had their tyres held together — with Hamilton, who’s tyres shredded last week as he grimly held on for a race win — again taking aim at tyre manufacturer Pirelli.

“Congratulations to Red Bull,” Hamilton said.

“You look at their tyres and they did not have the problems we had today, it is difficult to have the blistering as hard as we experienced it.

“We have not had that before, most likely it was that Pirelli were struggling with tyre failures last week, so then [another] weekend on they just put the pressures up and up and up.

“They are like balloons now, they are the highest pressure we have had at a track like this.

Bottas labelled the day a frustrating one and questioned his team’s strategy after the race, while talking to Britain’s Sky Sports.

“As a team we were sleeping at some point when Max managed to get ahead of us, so our strategy was far from ideal,” he said.

Ricciardo endures tough day

While the day promised much for Australia’s Ricciardo, who finished fourth at the same track in last weekend’s British Grand Prix, he could not replicate the performance as he endured a horror day.

It began when he was passed by Racing Point’s Lance Stroll on the opening lap of the race, dropping to sixth position as he took a wide line after trying to pass the other Racing Point of Nico Hulkenberg, his former Renault teammate.

It would only get worse from there, with Ricciardo pitting multiple times due to tyre issues and the worst of it came on lap 32 while racing Carlos Sainz.

Sainz, in his McLaren was around the outside of Ricciardo, who spun his Renault, costing him more positions as he finally dropped to finish 14th and out of the points.

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Ricciardo said strategy errors cost him but he doubted that the car was set up as well as last weekend.

“It was a race which kept getting away from us,” Ricciardo said.

“In hindsight we could have gone longer and kept the hard [compound tyre] on but we went for the medium and that just got destroyed.

“Then I had a battle tried to defend from Carlos [Sainz], spun and killed those tyres and our race was done.”

ABC/AP



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Lewis Hamilton wins his seventh British F1 grand prix with a punctured tyre, Daniel Ricciardo comes fourth


Lewis Hamilton limped to a record seventh British grand prix victory with his heart in mouth and a prayer on his lips after a dramatic last-lap puncture turned his Mercedes into a three-wheeler on Sunday.

In an astonishing end to a race he had dominated from pole position, the six-times world champion nursed his stricken Mercedes across the line to stretch his Formula One world championship lead to 30 points.

“I have definitely never experienced anything like that on the last lap,” said Hamilton after inspecting his barely-attached front left tyre.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finished second, but could have won had he not pitted for fresh tyres in a successful late bid to score an extra point for the fastest lap, assuming victory was out of reach.

Sparks fly from a Formula One car as it speeds down a straight with a punctured tyre.
Lewis Hamilton just made it over the line to win the British F1 grand prix, after a late puncture to his left front tyre.(AP/Pool: Frank Augstein)

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was third, another surprise for a team struggling for performance.

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Hamilton’s teammate and closest rival Valtteri Bottas failed to score after also suffering a late puncture and finishing 11th, despite a one-two finish for the pair having looked a nailed-on certainty until late in the race.

“Up until that last lap everything was relatively smooth sailing,” said Hamilton of a race that was already extraordinary for the absence of spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“I heard that his [Bottas’s] tyre went and I was just looking at mine and everything seemed fine. The car was still turning no problem … Those last few laps I started to back off and then just down the straight it just deflated.

The victory was the 87th of Hamilton’s F1 career — leaving him four short of Ferrari great Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of 91 — and his third in a row. It was also probably his greatest escape.

Verstappen’s race engineer summed it up over the team radio: “He’s a lucky boy.”

The Dutch driver said he was happy with second place and brushed aside talk of a missed win in a race with two safety car periods.

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“I could also pick up a puncture and then you lose a lot more,” he said.

“I don’t regret anything. I think we made the right decision.”

Mercedes, chasing a seventh successive title double, have won all four races this season.

Two Formula One cars are involved in a duel, while several cars are seen behind them in background.
Lando Norris (front) and Daniel Ricciardo will be teammates next season, but there was no quarter given as Ricciardo won their duel at Silverstone.(AP/Pool: Bryn Lennon)

Australian Daniel Ricciardo was fourth for Renault, ahead of future McLaren teammate Lando Norris, whose own teammate — Carlos Sainz — also had a puncture.

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Frenchman Esteban Ocon ensured Renault’s double-points finish in sixth, with compatriot Pierre Gasly seventh for AlphaTauri and British-born Thai Alexander Albon riding a rollercoaster of a race to eighth place.

Canadian Lance Stroll was ninth for Racing Point, and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel took the final point.

The next round, the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix to mark Silverstone’s hosting of the first world championship race in 1950, is at the same circuit next weekend. But it will struggle to match Sunday’s sensation.

Only 19 of the 20 drivers started, with Racing Point stand-in Nico Hulkenberg failing to make it out of the garage due to power unit problems.

The German was replacing Mexican Sergio Perez, in quarantine after testing positive for coronavirus earlier in the week.

All the drivers took part before the start in a stance against racism, with Hamilton one of 13 taking a knee as the other seven stood behind.

A World War II Spitfire fighter plane flew overhead afterwards in a gesture of thanks for Britain’s National Health Service.

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Reuters



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