Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Corey Rockafeler | Lewis Hamilton delighted with new Mercedes car after fast start to 2017

Lewis Hamilton has lavished his new car, the W08, with praise after setting the quickest time on Day One of pre-season testing.

"Pretty happy with the work everyone's done with the car - it looks fantastic," he told Sky Sports News HQ.

"It feels great and there's lot of things we need to improve on, which we will, but a great first day to get that many laps in and our car looks the best, so I'm happy."

Despite only driving the new Mercedes car in the afternoon, Hamilton topped the timesheets with a time of 1:21.765 - a considerable improvement on the best time set in the entirety of winter testing at Barcelona 12 months ago and an immediate statement of ominous intent from the world champions.

"Firstly, people always want to big you up at the beginning of the season, two, we are world champions, and three, our car looks a thousand times better than anyone else's so that [people saying we are favourites] is to be expected," added Hamilton.

Ominously for their rivals, Mercedes not only set the fastest lap of the day but they also recorded more laps than any other team.

Although the sport's rule makers have demanded cars which are tougher to drive, Hamilton and new team-mate Valtteri Bottas completed in excess of race-distance equivalents in the W08.

"It's a much more beefed up version from the car we've had in the previous years. It's a lot more downforce, a lot faster through the corners. And that means a lot more load for the driver which is quite a considerable amount which is a good challenge," said Hamilton.

"It's harder to get the car into the corner, it's more force on the body, harder to hold your head up. It's just a lot more physical."

Hamilton was, however, doubtful that the faster, more aggressive machines will guarantee more overtaking in Formula 1.

"I was behind a couple of cars out there and it was harder to follow," the 32-year-old admitted. "Right now the tyres are so hard, they don't drop off, they just keep going and going.

"So most likely we're going to be doing a lot more one-stoppers as there's less degradation, and there's going to be less overtaking. That's my estimation but I might be wrong. We'll find out."

Corey Rockafeler | England escape with warm-up win over West Indies Presidents' XI

England survived a batting collapse of six wickets for 49 runs to win their last one-day warm-up game ahead of the three-match one-day international series against West Indies, starting Friday.

Set 234 to win by a West Indies Cricket Board Presidents' XI in St Kitts, England stuttered their way to the target after slipping from 128-1 to 177-7.

Jonny Bairstow top-scored opening the batting, with 86 from 97 balls, but it was left to an unbeaten run-a-ball 47 from Chris Woakes to see the tourists home in the penultimate over.

Earlier, Ben Stokes (3-35) and Liam Plunkett (3-44) took three wickets each to restrict their hosts, although there was some bad news for the visitors as Jake Ball left the field early on with a knee injury.

England lost the toss and were made to bowl first, so the visitors will have been mightily pleased to reduce the home side to 55-5 by the 17th over.

Openers Montcin Hodge (16) and Kyle Hope (24) put on 41 for the first wicket before Plunkett dismissed the former to trigger a mini-collapse, with the Yorkshire quick adding the scalps of Sunil Ambris (1) and Andre McCarthy (0) in a later over.

But the West Indies side rallied, with top-scoring skipper Jahmar Hamilton (73) and Rahkeem Cornwall (59) sharing in a 123-run stand for the sixth wicket.

Adil Rashid finally broke the partnership, getting rid of Cornwall, and though Kyle Mears added a further quickfire 33 - off 32 balls - lower down the order, Stokes and Woakes (2-37) mopped up the tail to see their hosts bowled out with two overs to spare.

In reply, England lost Sam Billings (2) in the third over, but Yorkshire pair Bairstow and Joe Root (46) added 117 for the second wicket that seemingly had the visitors cruising to victory.

But Root's dismissal sparked a middle-order collapse, with Jos Buttler (8) and Moeen Ali (2) departing for single-figure scores, then Bairstow falling 14 short of a century.

When McCarthy took the wickets of captain Eoin Morgan (15) and Stokes (0) within two balls of each other, England were suddenly in big trouble.

And although an eighth wicket of Adil Rashid (10) fell, Woakes' fine innings under pressure kept England's unbeaten start to their tour in tact.