Newly-crowned three-time world champion Max Verstappen cruised to his 14th win of an outstanding season for Red Bull on Sunday when he won an exhausting, frantic and often confusing Qatar Grand Prix.
The 26-year-old Dutchman, who secured his third straight title win in Saturday’s sprint race, came home 4.838 seconds clear of McLaren’s rookie Oscar Piastri, who won Saturday’s sprint, and lapped his Red Bull team-mate, erstwhile title rival, Sergio Perez.
Lando Norris finished third in the second McLaren ahead of Mercedes’ George Russell, who survived a first-corner crash with team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who retired in the gravel.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, the Italian team’s only runner after Carlos Sainz withdrew due to fuel issues before the start, finished fifth ahead of Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon of Alpine.
Valtteri Bottas of Alfa Romeo was eighth, Perez came home ninth and Zhou Guanyu 10th in the second Alfa Romeo, but their positions were reversed due to the Mexican’s time penalties.
It was Verstappen’s 49th career victory and came complete with pole position and fastest lap, giving him a classic hat-trick to mark his triple title triumph.
“I think what made my race was my first stint,” said Verstappen. “After that I could manage the pace and keep the tyres in a good window, but the McLarens were quick and really pushed me.”
Piastri, reflecting the feelings of all the drivers, said: “It was so hot. With three stops, it was flat out every lap so it was like 57 qualifying laps… I’m happy, but it was the hardest race of my life.”
Norris said: “Well, I’m sweaty, hot, tired and happy.”
After another sweltering day, the air temperature was 32 and the track 37 when the race began in sensational fashion as the two Mercedes collided at Turn One in an accident that sent seven-time world champion Hamilton spinning out of the race.
Verstappen had made a perfect start and Hamilton, the only front-runner on soft tyres, attempted to sweep round the outside of Russell, but succeeded only in steering his rear-right tyre into his compatriot’s front wing.
The impact sent both cars spinning. Hamilton flew off, but Russell recovered to continue and make a pit stop as a safety car was deployed.
After muttered complaints, Russell apologised, but it appeared that he had nowhere to go in an incident which, for Mercedes, revived memories of the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix when Hamilton and team-mate Nico Rosberg collided and retired at the first corner.
The winner on that day, claiming his maiden victory, was a then-18-year-old Verstappen.
After four laps, the safety car came in and the race restarted with Verstappen blasting clear of Piastri to open up a lead of 1.2 seconds with Alonso third.
This move followed Saturday’s revision of the marked track limits and kerbs that had damaged the walls of several cars’ tyres on Friday and meant all the teams had to adopt a minimum three-stop strategy.
Perez, who started from the pit-lane following car changes after his crash in Saturday’s sprint, also sliced through the field to reach third before, on lap 18, after Verstappen pitted, Williams’ Alex Albon took the lead and Perez fell, after a stop, to 16th.
Albon pitted within a lap and Verstappen was back in charge ahead of Piastri and Alonso, all on a three-stop strategy.
In addition to the frantic tactical challenge of the new tyre rules, several drivers were shown a black and white warning flag for exceeding track limits — meaning a repeat transgression would bring a five-second penalty.
For Perez, this duly came as Verstappen’s domination continued.
By lap 30, he was 22 seconds clear of Russell as he set a record for laps led in a season with his 740th in command, beating the 2013 record set by four-time champion Sebastian Vettel.
The demanding conditions took their toll on the drivers. Alonso went off at Turn Two and survived a gravel trap before re-joining via an escape road and then Logan Sargeant reported feeling nauseous and vomiting in his helmet.
“I don’t feel well, man,” said Sargeant. “I need to stop.”
On lap 42, he retired and Perez collected another five-second penalty.
PCB reveals schedule of National T20 Super 8
The schedule for the National T20 Super 8 has been revealed by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) following the advancement of the top two teams from each group to the Super Eight stage. This stage is set to take place in a round-robin format spanning from December 1 to December 8.
🚨 Schedule of the @AHGroup_Pk Presents Jazz Super 4G National T20 Cup 2023-24 Super 8 🗓️
— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) November 30, 2023
Following the Super Eight stage, the top four teams will qualify for the semi-finals. Both semi-finals are scheduled to be played on 9 December at National Bank Stadium, at 1500 PKT and 2000 PKT respectively.
The final is scheduled to be played at the same venue on 10 December. The toss will take place at 1930 PKT and the first ball will be bowled at 2000 PKT.
The winning team of the tournament will pocket a prize money of PKR 5 million.
Meanwhile, the tournament runners-up will be awarded PKR 2.5 million. The player of the tournament will be rewarded with PKR 250,000. The same amount has been allotted to three other awards; best batter, best bowler and best wicket-keeper of the tournament. The player of the final will receive PKR 50,000 while player of the match in each of the
Super Eight games and the semi-finals will be given PKR 25,000.
This is the first edition of the tournament played since the PCB 2014 Constitution was reinstated. The previous edition of National T20, which featured six sides, was won by Sindh who clinched their maiden title after defeating defending champions Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by eight wickets. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa lost out on securing a hat-trick of titles after winning both the 2020-21 and 2021-22 editions.
British Gymnastics bans weighing young athletes
British Gymnastics has introduced new safeguarding rules that will prevent coaches from weighing athletes to stamp out methods it said are “on the fringe of abuse”.
The rules are part of a series of policies that the governing body is introducing following the 2022 Whyte Review, which found there was “systemic” physical and emotional abuse within the sport.
British Gymnastics has said it intends to go beyond the recommendations of that report to stamp out “harmful practices”.
Under the new rules, no gymnasts aged 10 or under can be weighed. Those above that age can only be weighed with the consent of both the gymnast and if they are under the age of 18, a parent or guardian.
If athletes are weighed, it must be done by a sports science or medical practitioner, with a “scientifically valid rationale” for it, including measuring growth or designing strength and conditioning exercises.
British Gymnastics said the policy had been introduced “to prevent inappropriate practices and prevent potential areas of concern around weighing, due to some of the related psychological distress and risks of the development of mental health problems such as eating disorders/disordered eating, anxiety, and depression”.
“Inappropriate or excessive weighing of gymnasts is an example of poor practice which may be on the fringe of abuse, and if/or repeated could amount to abuse,” it added.
The Whyte Review focused on 2008 to 2020 and received more than 400 submissions of those, more than 40 percent described physically abusive behavior towards gymnasts from coaches.
In a statement, British Gymnastics chief executive Sarah Powell said: “Above all else, we care about gymnasts as people, and these new policies make clear that what matters most in gymnastics is the welfare of those involved.
“While practices have moved on a long way, we know there has been poor practice in these areas and so by providing clarity for gymnasts, parents and carers, coaches, clubs, volunteers, and officials through the statements set out in these policies it will ensure everyone understands what is OK and what is not OK and help prevent that happening in the future.”
Iftikhar Ahmed joins Multan Sultans, Rossouw returns to Quetta Gladiators
Pakistan all-rounder Iftikhar Ahmed will don the Multan Sultans’ jersey in the ninth edition of Pakistan Super League (PSL).
In a trade, Iftikhar has moved to Multan Sultans, whereas Rilee Rossouw has returned to his previous franchise, Quetta Gladiators.
🔥🚨 Box-office Trade Alert 🚨🔥
🔁Iftikhar Ahmed joins Multan Sultans
— PakistanSuperLeague (@thePSLt20) November 30, 2023
The trade deal with Quetta Gladiators also sees Multan Sultans get the first pick in the platinum round one in exchange for Rilee Rossouw and the first Silver category pick.
Iftikhar has evolved into a formidable all-rounder for his power-hitting and foxy off-spin. He brings an experience of 229 T20 matches in which he has scored 4,476 runs. He also has a century in the format to go with 30 half-centuries. Since the start of his career in October 2010, the muscular batter has been smashing a boundary every 6.75 balls. He recently reached the 50-wicket landmark and his economy stands at 7.31.
Iftikhar Ahmed: “I am delighted to become a Sultan. It is an honour for me to represent the people of Multan as their passion for this game is second to none. Multan Sultans have evolved into a strong team and their record in the last three seasons speak for itself. Now, it is my ambition to help them bag the prestigious HBL PSL trophy,” Iftikhar said.
Captain Muhammad Rizwan: “I am very excited to welcome Iftikhar Ahmed. He brings outstanding all-round skills, which we need to be a champion team.
“It was not only his on-field skills that made us finalise this trade, but he is also a brilliant team player who uplifts dressing rooms with his presence. We are eager to put together a set of players whose skills are in sync with our positive, bold and aggressive brand of cricket.”
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