Mercedes boss Toto Wolff blames 'software problem' for Melbourne loss

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Sebastian Vettel won the Australian Grand Prix ahead of Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes said Sunday a software glitch may have cost world champion Lewis Hamilton victory after Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari won the Formula One season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Hamilton was in control of Sunday’s race until Romain Grosjean’s Haas stopped on the track and officials imposed a Virtual Safety Car (VSC), which restricts the pace of the cars on track.

The VSC caused the field to slow while Vettel, who was leading courtesy of Hamilton’s earlier stop, was able to dive into the pits for fresh tyres and lose less time than under normal race conditions.

It meant Vettel emerged from the pits marginally in front of a startled Hamilton and held on to his advantage to the chequered flag for his third Australian GP victory.

“What just happened guys?” Hamilton queried his Mercedes team over radio during the race. “Why didn’t you tell me Vettel was in the pits?

“We thought we were safe, but there’s obviously something wrong,” the team replied.

“Did I do anything wrong? Should I have gone faster?” Hamilton pressed further.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said an investigation would be needed to find out what happened.

“It’s very hard to take because we had the pace. For whatever reason, we need to find out, we lost the win,” Wolff told Sky F1.

“We thought we had about three seconds margin. I don’t know what happened to them, we need to ask the computers and that’s what we are doing.
Whether we had a software problem somewhere, we need to fix it.

“I think the problem is within our systems. I think we have a bug somewhere that said 15 seconds is what you need, we had 12, it should have been enough but it wasn’t.”

Wolff said the lack of overtaking opportunities on the Albert Park street circuit also contributed to the galling defeat.

“Lewis was attacking flat out but you can see the overtaking is pretty bad here,” he said.

“Even the mega overtakers couldn’t make a pass. Lewis had to give up because the tyres wouldn’t have made it to the end.”

Mercedes’ former world champion Nico Rosberg said he was staggered by the team’s software problems.

“It’s unbelievable that Mercedes had a software glitch of five seconds. Five seconds is the world out there in F1. It’s a huge one and it cost them the win,” he
said.

“It’s only the first race and Mercedes had awesome pace out there. Lewis, when he was pushing, he was fast. I don’t think it’s time to worry yet for Mercedes.”

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Daman Speed Academy drivers Hamda Al Qubaisi and Ali Al Shamsi impress at the Yas Marina Circuit

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Hamda Al Qubaisi finished in the top five in the Senior class.

Daman Speed Academy (DSA) drivers Hamda Al Qubaisi (Senior class) and Ali Al Shamsi (Junior class) showed a great performance at Yas Marina Circui, ending the day inside the top five in Abu Dhabi. Team-mate Saeed Al Ali (Shifter Class) was one lap away from securing his second victory this season.

Al Qubaisi was delighted with the team’s showing and said: “I had a great race in Yas Marina Circuit, I started off really well with a decent qualifying position (P4), and for the heat, I managed to get into P2… my kart felt really good.”

“I had the speed to end the pre-final race inside the top 3 but I faced few challenges towards the end of the race and I ended up in P5. For the final race, I had a good start made it up to P4 in the first lap but my kart did not feel the same and my speed dropped down, I was half a second slower than I was in the previous races but I managed to finish fifth and I think that’s a good result for the final.

Ali Al Shamsi was equally impressive n the Junior class.

Ali Al Shamsi was equally impressive n the Junior class.

“I’m looking forward now the final round at RAK Track and hopefully will end the season on the podium.”

In the Junior class, which comprised of a total of 13 drivers, Al Shamsi finished his final race in fourth overall.

Launched in 2015, the X30 Challenge UAE is the newest kart racing series in the region. The X30 Challenge is a race series aimed at drivers who wish to take the next step from rental karting. Using professional racing karts powered by IAME X30 racing engines, the X30 Challenge series offers winners from all seven categories the opportunity to compete at the X30 International Final.

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Marc Marquez and other title contenders for the MotoGP world championship

Denzil Pinto 16/03/2018
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The new season begins this weekend

With the new MotoGP season getting underway this weekend, we look at the five riders who could mount a serious title challenge to reign supreme at the end of the 2018 campaign.

MARC MARQUEZ

Man to beat: Marc Marquez

Man to beat: Marc Marquez

The man that everyone will be wanting to beat and for good reason too. The 25-year-old Spaniard enters the new season as the defending champion and will be searching for his fifth title in six years. Barring three retirements in the 2017 season, whenever the Honda rider finished the race, it was always sixth or above.

MAVERICK VINALES

Maverick: Vinales

Maverick: Vinales

After three seasons in MotoGP, the Spaniard is beginning to find his feet in the premier class. Last year could not have asked for a better start with three wins in five races. The Yahama rider could not replicate the feat but put in a number of strong performances throughout the campaign to finish a creditable third position.

DANI PEDROSA

Experienced: Dani Pedrosa (right)

Experienced: Dani Pedrosa (right)

Has finished runner-up on three occasions with his last being in 2012 but although that may seem a long time ago, the 32-year-old Italian has continued to be a force. Has won races in 12 consecutive seasons from 2006 and if he can maintain his consistency over the course of the season, he could well end his wait of being champion.

ANDREA DOVIZIOSO 

Not settling for second: Andrea Dovizioso

Not settling for second: Andrea Dovizioso

The Italian won the same number of races (six) as Marquez in 2017 but still could not find a way of getting his hands on that elusive trophy. The 2017 runner-up will need another similiar effort or even better to stay ahead of his rivals. At 31 and a decade of competing in MotoGP, his experience will be key.

VALENTINO ROSSI

BeFunky Collage

A man who knows what it takes to win a MotoGP title and that too, over a number of years. Has nine crowns to his name with his last coming in 2009. At 39, you might think his best days are over but in 2017 showed glimpses that age is no barrier to finish fifth and ahead of three-time world champion Jorge Lorenzo.

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