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Record lap gives Hamilton 6th straight pole at Australian GP
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Record lap gives Hamilton 6th straight pole at Australian GP

Record lap gives Hamilton 6th straight pole at Australian GP
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Rick Rycroft
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain puts his hands together after qualifying on pole for the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, March 16, 2019. The first race of the year is Sunday. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Record lap gives Hamilton 6th straight pole at Australian GP

Lewis Hamilton produced the fastest lap ever at the Australian Grand Prix to take pole position at the Formula One season opener for the sixth consecutive year .

The five-time world champion edged Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas' leading time with seconds remaining to top qualifying Saturday in 1 minute, 20.486 seconds.

It will be the eighth time in Hamilton's career that he'll start in No. 1 position on the grid in Australia matching Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna's record for most pole positions at one F1 circuit .

"Oh man. I'm shaking it was so close out there," Hamilton said in a post-session TV interview. "I'm so proud. Valtteri did an exceptional job out there, so close."

Bottas was second in 1:20.598 and will start alongside Hamilton on the front row of the grid in Sunday's Grand Prix. Two-time defending champion Sebastian Vettel was third, while Red Bull's Max Verstappen split the Ferraris by finishing fourth in front of Charles Leclerc.

Hamilton's 84th career pole position came as a surprise to nobody, particularly after his 11 GP wins in 2018 and complete domination of the end of last season. He led all three practice sessions before topping qualifying, although he said he hadn't anticipated his gap over the Ferraris to be as wide as seven-tenths of a second.

"I felt good that we had a decent package to deal with, but we were aware we may be slightly behind; that's what we thought when we saw a summary of testing," he said. "Valtteri and I have been pushing the car to its absolute limits. This is the first time we've unleashed the full potential of the car and I'm so happy to have a car that I can fight with."

Asked about the record he now shared with Schumacher (Suzuka) and Senna (Imola), Hamilton said, "I didn't even know. That's news to me."

He'll be focused more on the race, having only been able to convert one of his five most recent pole starts here into a victory — in 2015.

That the Ferraris haven't yet been able to post faster times than Mercedes isn't something that bothers Vettel, who has won here the last two years despite finishing behind Hamilton in qualifying.

Asked if Ferrari can make it three in a row in Australia, Vettel said, "Of course, I think we can. We have a good race car. We're in good form.

"Obviously, Mercedes are clear favorites, but we're here to race."

Leclerc had the quickest time in Q1 but slipped back to third in Q2 and then fifth.

Haas teammates Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen were sixth and seventh, McLaren recruit Lando Norris was eighth in his first F1 qualifying session, 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen was ninth for Alpha Romeo Racing and Sergio Perez rounded out the top 10 for Racing Point.

Both Renault drivers missed out on the last stage of qualifying entirely with Nico Hulkenberg 11th after the second run and Daniel Ricciardo 12th in his first qualifying session for his new team.

Pierre Gasly ended his first qualifying run for Red Bull in the garage and was among the five drivers who failed to progress out of the first qualifying section.

He was joined by Williams drivers George Russell and Robert Kubica, who slid off the track after puncturing a tire and had the slowest time of all 20 vehicles. Kubica is making a comeback to F1 following injuries sustained in a serious rallying accident before the start of the 2011 season.

The temperature only reached 23 C (73 F) on clear day at Albert Park on Saturday but is forecast to warm up to 26 C (79 F) on race day.

Drivers and teams also remembered former F1 race director Charlie Whiting, who died suddenly in Melbourne from a pulmonary embolism on the eve of the first official practice sessions of the year.

Hamilton had the words "Thank You Charlie" stenciled on the front of the Mercedes racing car and wore a black arm band on his left sleeve during a post-qualifying news conference.

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More AP racing: https://www.racing.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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More AP F1 coverage: https://apnews.com/FormulaOne

Read More

Georgia Sports News

  • Devon Gales, the former Southern University football player who was paralyzed in a 2015 game against UGA, is returning to football. Gales has been hired as an assistant football coach at Jefferson High School, per accessWDUN.com’s Bo Wilson. The new job will be around 20 miles away from UGA. Former UGA recruiting coordinator Bob Pittard is a social studies teacher at the high school. Per the website, the hiring of Gales was the idea of Jefferson superintendent Dr. John Jackson. It was after Gales shared his story with the Jefferson senior class. “It was brought to our attention upon meeting this wonderful family that Devon missed the game and practices and being part of a football team in the game he still loved so much,” Jefferson coach Gene Cathcart told the website. “Dr. John Jackson had the idea of getting him involved in our program in some way and how our young men would benefit from his living example, character, strength in facing adversity and perseverance.” UGA donors and fans raised funds to build a handicapped-accessible house in Jefferson for Gales and his family. The post Devon Gales makes his return to football appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart has emphasized several times in several ways that championship football requires all units working together. Indeed, much of the Bulldogs’ offensive and defensive scheming is predicated on Smart and his staff analyzing strengths and weaknesses and game arriving at core alignments and plays. The sooner Georgia knows itself, the better, and that makes the Bulldogs’ 15 spring practice dates pivotal. Here’s a way-too-early positional group ranking, an order that could be affected by an updated injury report or the emergence of a newcomer. 1. Offensive line The lock: Junior left tackle Andrew Thomas, Outland Trophy candidate. The question: Sophomore Cade Mays, where does he fit in? 2. Defensive backs The lock: Senior safety J.R. Reed, team leader of defense. The question: Sophomore Tyson Campbell, will skills match elite speed and ideal length? 3. Specialists The lock: Senior kicker Rodrigo Blankenship. The question: Can Georgia adequately replace Mecole Hardman? 3. Quarterbacks The lock: Junior Jake Fromm, third-year starter, offense on his shoulders. The question: How much of the offense can freshman Dwan Mathis pick up? 4. Linebackers The lock: None. The question: Can senior Tae Crowder become the playmaker Georgia lacked last year? 5. Running backs The lock: Junior tailback D’Andre Swift, Hesiman Trophy candidate The question (s): Will production match 5-star ratings of James Cook and Zamir White in 2019? 6. Receivers/tight ends The lock: Junior receiver J.J. Holloman is the go-to target. The question: Can graduate transfer tight end Eli Wolf fill the void left by Isaac Nauta? 7. Defensive linemen The lock: None. The question: Will sophomore Jordan Davis become an SEC dominator? More Georgia football spring 2019 Georgia linebackers: most improved unit? UGA running backs 4 spring football questions 5 questions for UGA spring football, it’s Jake Fromm’s team Does Georgia have championship level Defensive line? Questions 4 questions for Georgia football O-Line 3 pre-spring football questions on Georgia QB situation Kirby Smart provides preview on young receivers  Georgia secondary still best in the SEC? The post Georgia football: Way-too-early team spring position group rankings appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Best I can tell, it has been my task to cover college football spring practices for about 26 of the 31 years that encompass my sportswriting career. There were a few years that I wasn’t covering college football. There were a few more that I bounced around and saw a little bit of a lot of different teams. Most of time, though, I’ve been charged with covering all of Georgia’s spring practices. There have been times those practice sessions have been pretty interesting, some times that they’ve been incredibly dull and all over the place between. I’m anticipating the Bulldogs’ spring practice this year to be fairly intriguing. There are a lot of reasons for that, but the main one is the influx of new players. Early enrollment was a fairly new concept in the 1990s and still a bit of a rarity then. Quarterback Eric Zeier was one of the first high-profile recruits to do it and it served him very well that first year. Zeier served notice at the 1991 G-Day Game that he was going to be a factor that season, and boy was he ever. Since then, early enrollment has become a regular part of the recruiting process. Nowadays, everybody everywhere has at least a hand full of signees that come in early and get embedded with their respective teams since the first week of January. But it remains somewhat rare to see as many new players come in early — 14 — as Georgia has this year. Fourteen is a lot. The most ever for the Bulldogs. They had 13 in that 2013 class that included 30 total signees (and experienced some of the worst attrition ever for Georgia football). It’s not the most in college football. Alabama had 16 enroll early out of its 23-man recruiting class this year. But 14 is a bunch of new Bulldogs, no matter how one slices it up. That in and of itself cranks up the competition factor. Georgia has several areas in which it’d love to get some impact from from some of these early arrivals. Quarterback, linebacker and defensive back immediately spring to mind. I’d say receiver, too. But, oddly enough, the Bulldogs weren’t able to bring in any of their wideout signees early Dominick Blaylock happens to attend a school in Walton High that doesn’t allow it. Georgia has experienced the same thing with players it has signed out of Pace Academy, including Jamaree Salyer, Andrew Thomas and Trey Blount. But that’s where spring ball has changed a good bit over the years. It’s much more competitive over the course of 15 practices than it used to be. Those sessions can go a long way to determining who is going to be starter in the fall. Not always, but often. The ideal situation is getting as many positions locked down and decided in the spring, so those guys can work together as a unit as much as possible on a volunteer basis over the summer. That way they hit the ground running in preseason practice. No doubt you’ve read numerous accounts of what various people believe the be the most pressing priorities of the spring for the Bulldogs. As for me, the order of importance goes this way: Determine a receiver rotation; Identify a backup quarterback; Establish a starting center; Settle on a right cornerback; Figure out who else will help on defense. Going with the receivers first is an easy call for me. It has been well-documented that the Bulldogs lost 106 catches and 20 touchdowns from last year’s wideouts, the majority of those being compiled by juniors Riley Ridley and Mecole Hardman. But that number actually goes up by 35 catches and 3 touchdowns when tight end Isaac Nauta and running back Elijah Holyfield are included. So the emphasis on throwing and catching the ball in spring practice is going to be heavy. It’s usually that way anyway this time of year, because it is rare for teams to pound on each other a lot this far away from the actual season. That said, Georgia will need to mindful of Jake Fromm’s arm health and be careful not to overthrow him. To that end, the Bulldogs would like to come out with a good idea who is going to be Fromm’s primary backup. I wrote extensively on Sunday about redshirt sophomore Stetson Bennett coming back via junior college and giving Georgia an immediate competent presence with regard to already knowing the offensive system. But freshman Dwan Mathis remains an intriguing figure, and one can he sure that the Bulldogs will work hard and fast to determine exactly what they have in this 6-foot-6 athlete who has run a 10.8 100 meters. Trey Hill leads the way to succeed Lamont Gaillard at center, but that’s not a given. As always, Sam Pittman probably suffer brain cramps from exploring all possibilities for determining the combination that results in the best five across the board. The competition to succeed Deandre Baker at right cornerback certainly will be intriguing. But starting with elevating Tyson Campbell there as Georgia did in the bowl game is the first in what are all positive alternatives at all the secondary positions. If early enrollees such as JUCO transfer D.J. Daniel or Tyrique Stevenson end up winning out, all the better. Same with outside linebackers. The recruiting at this position has been other-worldly. Between the 5-stars that are coming back and the ones coming in, something is going to have Conversely, that’s why I don’t list inside linebackers here. Certainly the Bulldogs want higher-level play than it got from the returnees last season. But I believe all the existing alternatives to be better than adequate and not necessarily paramount to Georgia’s cause.  And as exciting a prospect as is Nakobe Dean, ranked the No. 1 inside linebacker in America, I always think back to Roquan Smith’s struggles as a true freshman and how it was late in his sophomore season before he emerged as the star he actually was. Same on the D-line, same on the O-line, same in the offensive backfield, same on special teams. The rest of it is very much organic. That is, it’ll come together naturally through the teaching of concepts and fundamentals. The Bulldogs seek competition and improvement, but they’ll be able to go to war with they’ve got. What you’re NOT going to see is running back D’Andre Swift get much in the way of contact. I highly doubt you’ll see Zamir White get any at all. White, the heralded 2018 signee known as Zeus, is less than seven months removed from a second knee surgery that came eight months after the first. The Bulldogs will be very interested in seeing what the former No. 1 back in America can do, but that can wait until late summer, when he will have had a year to rehab and recover. Maybe the most important factor will be the Bulldogs getting used to some new voices and concepts from the coaching staff. For the first time since Kirby Smart has been head coach, somebody other than Jim Chaney or Mel Tucker will be putting together the practice script for the offense and defense, respectively. That said, I suspect it won’t change significantly from what Georgia has been doing the last four years. That’s why James Coley, Dan Lanning and Glenn Schumann were appointed coordinators. They’re going to give Smart what he wants, which is more of the same. But it’s that — the newness factor — that’s going to make this spring so fun and interesting. And then, of course, they’ll tear up all the depth charts and start from scratch in August. The post Newness factor is what makes Kirby Smart’s 4th spring practice his most interesting at Georgia appeared first on DawgNation.
  • KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) - Atlanta Braves right-hander Julio Teheran is set to make his sixth straight start on opening day. The Braves said Monday that Teheran will face the Phillies on March 28 in Philadelphia. Teheran's run ties Hall of Famer Warren Spahn (1957-62) for the longest in Braves' franchise history during the modern era. Teheran is 1-1 with a 2.73 ERA on opening day. Earlier this spring, it had been thought Mike Foltynewicz might start on opening day for the Braves. But he's likely to be out until at least mid-April with a sore right elbow. New Phillies slugger Bryce Harper is expected to make his debut in the opener. He's had a lot of career success against Teheran, going 18 for 40 (.450) with eight homers and 19 RBIs. Teheran went 9-9 last season with a 3.94 ERA in 31 starts.