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The Malaysian Insider :: Sports


Red Bull exorcise their Turkish demons

Posted: 08 May 2011 06:53 PM PDT

Webber drives during the Turkish F1 Grand Prix at the Istanbul Park circuit in Istanbul yesterday, May 8, 2011. — Reuters pic

ISTANBUL, May 9 — The hand that last year pointed the finger of blame at Mark Webber was extended in grateful thanks yesterday as Red Bull celebrated a healing one-two Turkish Grand Prix finish.

Austrian Helmut Marko, close confidant of the Formula One team's billionaire owner Dietrich Mateschitz, stood smiling in the same paddock where he had previously scowled at the Australian.

As Webber hurriedly approached the team motorhome, with jubilant mechanics waiting to celebrate team mate Sebastian Vettel's win and his own second place, Marko offered a handshake. It was accepted. The demons had been publicly exorcised.

"We have forgotten Turkey 2010. It was a perfect race and the whole team performed wonderfully, no strategic mistakes," Marko, who last May blamed Webber for a collision with Vettel that denied the team just such a one-two finish, told Reuters.

"We have forgotten last year. This year everything was fine and perfect."

Team principal Christian Horner agreed.

"It's a very sweet result today," he told Reuters before joining the cheering throng. "Winning a grand prix is always something very special, but especially after the challenges we had 12 months ago here.

"They (wins) all have the same points but this one was particularly sweet, especially to achieve a one-two with the drivers and team doing a fantastic job."

The atmosphere last year was very different, with Webber arriving in Turkey on the back of consecutive wins in Spain and Monaco and leading the championship after six races.

He had started the race on pole but, in a taste of the accusations of favouritism that were to come, felt Red Bull had told him to turn down his engine revs while he was leading in the closing laps while failing to issue a similar order to Vettel.

The German closed up, tried to pass and Webber stuck firmly to his line.

Yesterday, Vettel lined up on pole with two wins from three races and leading the championship.

While he roared away and led to win without being remotely troubled, Webber dropped back from second place and found himself locked in battle just to get back to where he had started.

"It would have been difficult to beat Seb today," he conceded.

Vettel, who did not lead the championship last year until he won the final race in Abu Dhabi to become the youngest ever champion at 23, will leave Istanbul with 93 points from a possible 100.

He has long had to put up with comparisons with compatriot Michael Schumacher and they are looking less and less fanciful by the race.

Vettel has been on pole position for the past five races and has won six of his last eight. If it goes on like this, the championship will be over long before the final round in Brazil in November.

The German, as ever, was keeping his feet firmly on the ground. "I think that the day you start to think that you are unbeatable is the day you get beaten," he said.

"We all try to win, obviously, and all try to be better than the other guys but I think there's always someone at some point who will teach you a lesson and will give you a very hard time and beat you." — Reuters

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Hot-shooting Mavs complete sweep to end Lakers’ season

Posted: 08 May 2011 05:31 PM PDT

Dallas Mavericks' Brendan Haywood (right) celebrates with Peja Stojakovic as Los Angeles Lakers' Steve Blake (left) looks on near the end of Game 4 of the NBA Western Conference semi-final basketball playoff in Dallas, Texas May 8, 2011. — Reuters pic

DALLAS, May 9 — The Dallas Mavericks completed a 4-0 second round sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers with a 122-86 rout of the two-time defending champions yesterday.

Dallas tied an NBA playoff record with 20 three-pointers to land the knockout blow on the aging and weary Lakers and send 11-time NBA champion coach Phil Jackson into retirement on a sour note.

Jason Terry drained nine three-pointers of his own and 32 points to send the Mavericks into the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2006.

In that season, Dallas lost in the NBA Finals despite holding a 2-0 series lead, but they suffered no such letdown against Los Angeles yesterday.

"We went to the finals that one year and have since had a couple early exits, but I think this team is as deep as any Mavs team I've been on and we're trying to go for it," Dallas All Star Dirk Nowitzki told reporters after finishing with 17 points.

"(The Lakers) are the defending champions. It was great to get through this series."

Kobe Bryant came out hot with 13 points in the first quarter, but finished with just 17 as the Mavs blitzed the visitors 36-16 in the second quarter to take a 24-point halftime lead.

The Lakers had reached the past three NBA Finals but in a season marked by inconsistent efforts they ultimately collapsed in Dallas in what was likely the end of Jackson's career.

The decorated coach has maintained that this would be his final season.

Having blown a 16-point lead in the series opener along with a late seven-point edge in their Game Three loss on Friday, Los Angeles were humiliated in game four.

The Mavericks bench dominated the action as reserve Jose Juan Barea recorded 22 points and eight assists and Peja Stojakovic added 21.

Los Angeles big men Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum were ejected in the fourth quarter after taking cheap shots on Dallas players once the game was well out of reach. — Reuters 

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