Sunday 17 December 2017

Lewis Hamilton on track to extend dominance

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton waves to spectators during practice at the Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton waves to spectators during practice at the Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo

Daniel Johnson

Upgrades, upgrades and more upgrades, we were told, would be the best chance of shuffling Formula One's pack after three weeks off, disturbing Lewis Hamilton's serene progress to his second world championship.

But on the basis of practice yesterday, Hamilton remains the fastest man on the grid and Mercedes remain the fastest team by some margin. The 29-year-old comfortably topped both practice sessions, and is on course to make it four wins in a row.

The start of the European season, at the Circuit de Catalunya, is traditionally the time when struggling teams can make leaps forward. Red Bull, with their beleaguered Renault engine, had the most to gain.

But after a day in which Sebastian Vettel could manage only a handful of laps and Daniel Ricciardo admitted the team had not made the step they had wished for, they will have to be content fighting for third.

That is all anyone apart from Hamilton and Nico Rosberg can manage at the moment. The German, hoping for a clean weekend, did not get it yesterday, with interruptions to his first session, and finished nearly half a second behind his team-mate.

Away from the track, F1 is a fractious sport at the moment. The four smaller disgruntled teams have threatened to force an EU intervention over revenue distribution, while Russia may still withdraw from the calendar.

The four rebellious outfits – Caterham, Force India, Marussia and Sauber – reiterated their concerns in a rare show of agreement by F1's standards. The four teams will submit proposals for reducing costs to FIA president Jean Todt next week. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

SPANISH GRAND PRIX, LIVE, TOMORROW, BBC 1 / SETANTA IRL / SKY SPORTS F1, 1.0

Irish Independent

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