Mercedes Italian GP win ‘flawlessly executed’ – Allison

Mercedes technical director James Allison believes that the Silver Arrows outfit’s win at Monza last weekend was its most ‘comprehensive’ yet this season.

Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton were in a league of their won in Italy as the Briton took his 59th career win and the first back-to-back triumph of the season.

The German team has struggled for consistency this year, generally running ahead at the power-thirsty venues while fighting for pace at the slower high down force tracks. 

“This season has been an exhilarating rollercoaster ride and we have won races by the skin of our teeth, others where we have lost by similar margins,” said tech boss James Allison.

“But this was the most comprehensive of our eight victories so far this season.

“It was a 1-2, flawlessly executed by the team, a dominant performance and delivered on the home turf of our main competitor; all that makes it a pretty memorable day.”

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Mercedes now enjoys a 62-point lead in the Constructors’ standings over arch-rival  Ferrari while Hamilton has also overhauled Sebastian Vettel in the drivers’ championship.

“Aside from the emotion, though, these points count the same as any others and put us in the lead of the drivers’ table for the first time as well as building our lead in the constructors’ standings.

“We know that sterner challenges await us in the races to come, so we need to bank these points, move on and make sure that we don’t relinquish either championship lead from now to Abu Dhabi.”

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Ocon future 100 percent secure at Force India

Esteban Ocon’s mid-term future is tied to Force India, says team boss Bob Fernley, tossing out the prospect of a move for the French driver for 2018.

With the works Renault team still in search of a driver to fill its seat alongside Nico Hulkenberg , pundits have suggested that both Ocon and team mate Sergio Perez remain likely candidates to replace Jolyon Palmer.

The 20-year-old, who has been mighty impressive in his first full season of F1, scoring points in 11 out of 12 races so far, is on a multi-year deal with the Silverstone-based squad and contracted until the end of 2019.

“We’re in a very fortunate position in that, like the top three teams, we’ve got two super-talented drivers, and we’re going to need that in order to battle for fourth place in 2018, or hopefully even go higher,” says Fernley.

“The last thing we want to do is to lose talent. Esteban is contracted with us effectively for three years, but two of them are absolutely secure.

“From a contractual point of view it’s clear, and I don’t think Esteban has got any ideas of wishing to go anywhere else at this point.

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“You’ve got to remember that we identified the potential of Esteban some time ago, and we obviously took the opportunity where others didn’t, including Renault, to sign him last year.

“We’ve now got the benefit of that, and we want to make sure that we optimise that.”

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While Perez has yet to be confirmed at Force India for 2018, discussions appear to be coming to a close, with all signs pointing to an extension of the Mexican’s contract.

“We’re very close with Checo,” says Force India COO Otmar Szafnauer.

“It’s no secret he has had support from some of his Mexican backers ever since he’s been in the sport.

“The difficulty with Checo is you have to almost do two contracts at the same time. With Checo, we’re completely in agreement. We now have to finalise what we do with his backers.”

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Verstappen comes up short but happy with runner-up spot

The Japanese Grand Prix saw Max Verstappen once again in the running as the Red Bull Racing driver collected a well-deserved second-place finish in Suzuka.

Verstappen was incisive at the outset, getting the measure of team mate Daniel Ricciardo on the run through Turn 1 at the start and then passing a troubled Sebastian Vettel.

While the Dutchman remained in close contact with leader Lewis Hamilton, he just missed the speed necessary to mount a proper attack.

Verstappen closed the gap dramatically however on the Mercedes driver in the closing stages of the races as Hamilton’s pace suddenly slowed, but in the end the runner-up came up just a bit short.

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“It was great day again, I think Suzuka is great to me, I already loved the track last year,” said Max on the podium.

“I think the pace today was really promising. The first stint on the supersoft, I was struggling a bit with the left front but as soon as we switched to the soft tyre it was actually very competitive.

“I was always with Lewis, especially in the last few laps. We had great pace, it was just really hard to pass.

“I could see Lewis managing his tyres and, with traffic, it seemed difficult for him to follow other cars compared to me.

“When you close up, you lose a lot of downforce. I couldn’t really attack him, but I tried.”

Verstappen was also cautious about going flat out in the closing laps because of a front tyre worn right down to the canvas.

He asked on the radio if he was “allowed to give it everything”, to which the team responded with the affirmative.

“The last two, three laps I gave it all to try and close the gap,” he added.

“We had a really good day again, the car is definitely improving race by race, so I’m really happy about that.”

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Ricciardo happy with first Suzuka podium after ‘lonely’ race

It was a lonely day at the races for Daniel Ricciardo but one which nevertheless yielded a positive performance and a podium finish.

The Red Bull Racing driver lost his position at the start to team mate Max Verstappen, but also to Force India’s incisive Esteban Ocon.

Ricciardo eventually got the better of the pink panther however but could not bridge the gap with the men ahead, eventually settling in to race on his own for most of the afternoon, as was the case in Sepang.

“The race was pretty lonely when I lost out at the start and then lost touch a little bit like last week,” said the Aussie.

“It was just the jump off of the line and then I was on the outside and didn’t get a good drive on the outside of turn two being hung out to dry on the outside and that is where Ocon got the better exit.

“It all started with the initial launch where we lost out. It was something I could have done better.”

  • Verstappen comes up short but happy with runner-up spot

A fast moving Valtteri Bottas started snapping at his heels in the second part of the race. Keeping the Finn at bay instilled a bit of fun and excitement for the remaining laps.

“It wasn’t that exciting from my point of view, but I then had Valtteri coming at the end so actually having a bit of pressure made it more exciting, it was good fun,” he said.

“I felt confident I could keep third place in the closing laps if I drove cleanly and hit all the apexes, which is what I did.

“I’m happy to spray some more champagne, it’s my ninth podium of the season which is a new record for me and to be in the position that we are now makes me pretty happy.

“It’s really encouraging for the team to have another double podium, both cars are getting to the finish reliably now and we are also quick.

“This is my first podium here, my objective today was to get the Suzuka podium and I have it and it feels great.

“It’s a circuit I’ve always enjoyed and now with this year’s cars it’s a lot of fun.”

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For Moment, the World Embraces the Cuba Model – and Slaps the Empire

Revolutionary Cuba has always been a miracle and gift to all humankind. This week, the nations of the world – with two savage exceptions – instructed their emissaries at the UN General Assembly to tell the world’s self-designated “indispensable” country to end its 54-year-long trade embargo against Cuba. The virtually unanimous global rebuke to the American superpower, in combination with the extraordinary breadth and depth of acclamation accorded Havana, tells us that it is Cuba, not the U.S., that is the truly “exceptional” nation on the planet.

It was the 23rd time that the United Nations has rejected the embargo. The outcome was identical to last year’s tally, with only the United States and Israel voting against the non-binding resolution. Although the list of American allies on the Cuban embargo issue could not possibly get any smaller – Israel, after all, can only exist if joined at the U.S. hip – this year’s political environment was even less deferential to the reigning military colossus. In recognition of its singular commitment to the fight against Ebola in Africa, Cuba soared, once again – the hero nation.

Despite having suffered cumulative economic damages of more than $1 trillion at U.S. hands over the last half-century, the island nation of 11 million people has made itself a medical superpower that shares its life-saving resources with the world. No country or combination of nations and NGOs comes close to the speed, size and quality of Cuba’s response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa. With 461 doctors, nurses and other health professionals either already on site or soon to be sent to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, Cuba sets the standard for international first-response. The Cuban contingent of medical professionals providing direct treatment to sick people outnumbers that of the African Union and all individual countries and private organizations, including the Red Cross. (Few of the 4,000 U.S. military personnel to be deployed in the region will ever lay a well-protected hand on an Ebola patient. Instead, the troops build field hospitals for others to staff.)

Doctors Without Borders is second to Cuba in terms of health professionals. But the French NGO is a swiftly revolving door, churning doctors and nurses in and out every six weeks because of the extreme work and safety conditions. Cuba’s health brigades are made of different stuff. Every volunteer is expected to remain on duty in the Ebola zone for six months. Moreover, if any of the Cubans contract Ebola or any other disease, they will be treated at the hospitals where they work, alongside their African patients, rather than sent home. (One Cuban died of cerebral malaria, in Guinea, last Sunday.)

It goes without saying that the Cubans are committed for the duration of the Ebola crisis; they have been at Africa’s service since the first years of the revolution. President Raul Castro reports that 76,000 Cuban medical specialists have served in 39 African countries over the years. Four thousand were stationed in 32 African countries when the current Ebola epidemic broke out. (Worldwide, Cuba’s “white-robed army” of care-givers numbers more than 50,000, in 66 countries – amid constant U.S. pressures on host countries to expel them.)

In sheer numbers, the Cuban medical posture in Africa is surpassed in scope only by the armed presence of AFRICOM, the U.S. military command, which has relationships with every country on the continent except Eritrea, Zimbabwe and Sudan. The governments of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone collaborate militarily with AFRICOM, but the heavily-armed Americans were of no use when Ebola hit. (According to a Liberian newspaper account, the Americans caused the epidemic, a widely held belief in the region.)

Indeed, the Euro-American legacy in Africa, from colonialism (Liberia has been a de facto colony of the U.S. since the days of President Monroe) to western-imposed financial “structural adjustments” that starved public health systems, is the root reason Liberia and Guinea have only one doctor for every 100,000 people, and Sierra Leone has just two.

Cuba knows colonialism well, having seen its independence struggle from Spain aborted by the United States in 1898, followed by six decades as a U.S. semi-colony. For Cuba, service to oppressed and exploited peoples is a revolutionary act of the highest moral caliber. That’s why, when the call went out, 15,000 Cubans competed for the honor to battle Ebola in Africa. As reported in The Guardian, doctors like Leonardo Fernandez were eager to fulfill their moral and professional mission. “We know that we are fighting against something that we don’t totally understand,” he said. “We know what can happen. We know we’re going to a hostile environment. But it is our duty. That’s how we’ve been educated.”

In the same way and for the same reasons, 425,000 Cubans volunteered for military service in Angola, from 1975 to 1991, leaving only after Angola was secure, Namibia had held its first free elections and South Africa was firmly on the road to majority rule. These Cubans were preceded by the doctor and soldier Che Guevara and 100 other fighters who journeyed to Congo in 1965 to join an unsuccessful guerilla war against the American-backed Mobutu regime.

Cuba has been selfless in defense of others, whether against marauding microbes or imperial aggression. “We never took any natural resources,” said Rodolfo Reyes Rodriguez, Cuba’s ambassador to the United Nations and a veteran of the war against white-ruled South Africa’s army in Angola. “We never took any salary, because in no way were we to be perceived to be mercenaries or on any kind of military adventure.”

For the United States, military adventure and the imperative to seize other countries’ natural resources or strangle their economies, are defining national characteristics – in complete contrast to Cuba. The U.S. embargo of its island neighbor is among the world’s longest-running morality plays, with Washington as villain. On this issue, the world’s biggest economic and military power could neither buy nor bully a single ally other than the Zionist state deformity.

Even Djibouti, the wedge of a nation between Eritrea and Somalia that hosts the biggest U.S. (and French) military base in Africa, spoke against the embargo on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Lithuania, a rabidly anti-Russian Baltic state, voiced the European Union’s objections to the embargo. Ethiopia, Washington’s henchman in the Horn of Africa, nevertheless opposed U.S. policy toward Cuba on behalf of the UN’s “Africa Group.” Tiny Fiji articulated the Group of 77 and China’s opposition to the trade blockade. Venezuela, Cuba’s major health partner in Latin America, voiced the anti-embargo position of Mercosur, the Common Market of the South.

Cuba’s neighbors in CARICOM, the Caribbean Economic Community, were represented by Saint Kitts and Nevis, whose ambassador pointed to Cuban-built hospitals and clinics throughout the region; the hundreds of Cuban doctors that have provided the only medical services available to many of Haiti’s poor before, during and after the catastrophic earthquake of 2010; and the thousands of Caribbean students that have benefited from free university education in Cuba.

Cuba’s exemplary conduct in the world has made the yearly UN vote on the U.S. embargo a singular opportunity for all the world body’s members, except one, to chastise the superpower that seeks full spectrum domination of the planet. It is the rarest of occasions, a time of virtual global unanimity on an evil in which the Empire is currently engaged. Once a year, the world – in both effect and intent – salutes the Cuban model. For a moment, humanity’s potential to organize itself for the common good illuminates the global forum.

This year, the model glows brightly in the darkness of microbial pestilence. When 15,000 Cuban health care workers do not hesitate to step into the Ebola pit, the New Man and Woman may already exist – and there is hope for the rest of us.