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Japanese GP: Sebastian Vettel on pole position in delayed qualifying

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The Japanese GP is live on 5 Live and the BBC Sport website at 06:10 BST

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel produced a scintillating performance to take pole position at the Japanese Grand Prix.

It was Vettel’s first pole since the Canadian Grand Prix in June and finally halted a run of nine races being out-qualified by team-mate Charles Leclerc.

The 21-year-old Monegasque, who has taken pole at the last four races, was second, 0.189 seconds behind.

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton were third and fourth, both just over 0.2secs off the Ferraris.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon were fifth and sixth, setting exactly the same lap time, 0.787secs off the pace, a hugely impressive performance on the face of it from the Anglo-Thai on his first visit to Suzuka.

Vettel bounces back

Vettel’s first pole at Suzuka was in 2009 when he beat the Toyota of Jarno Trulli and Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren

But the story was Vettel, who has struggled somewhat in the second half of the season under the challenge of Leclerc but revived memories of some of his greatest performances in an illustrious career with two laps good enough for pole position.

Vettel revelled in his performance on the magnificent Suzuka track after a tricky session in which drivers were faced with strong gusting winds, a hangover from Typhoon Hagibis, which forced qualifying to be delayed from Saturday until race morning.

Vettel said: “We are quite surprised. We did not expect that to have the front row. It was unbelievable, the car being so light and on new tyres and we had a head wind through the Esses which is what you want. I don’t think I touched the brakes (there) other than into Turn Two.”

Leclerc fell short of securing his fifth pole position in a row

Leclerc was threatening him on his final lap until he made some errors at the chicane and accelerating on to the final straight but admitted that Vettel was just too good for him.

“Seb did an amazing lap,” Leclerc said, “and today he just deserves to be on pole. I have been a bit struggling since the beginning of the weekend. But I have been pretty happy with my lap apart from the final sector when I did a few mistakes. But to be honest, pole was possible, Seb was just too quick.”

Leclerc said he was wary of the threat from the Mercedes cars in the race.

“Mercedes are very quick in the race,” he said, “and it is not going to be easy but we will try to focus on our job and keep this one-two.”

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Ferrari spring a surprise

The Williams of Kubica was first to crash out of qualifying

Mercedes had dominated Friday practice but felt that Ferrari were holding something in reserve then, and so it proved.

Bottas, who has looked quicker than Hamilton all weekend, said: “We seemed quite strong but we always knew Ferrari might have something to turn up. Through the straights they are unbeatable. But we are quick through the corners.”

The difficult conditions led to two drivers crashing out in the same place at the final corner in the early part of qualifying, as Williams driver Robert Kubica and Haas’ Kevin Magnussen both lost control.

Kubica ran wide onto the grass and understeered into the barriers, while Magnussen spun and hit the barriers backwards, although he managed to get his car back to the pits.

Both teams face a race against time to get the cars ready in the short interval before the race starts at 14:10 local time (06:10 BST).

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Could digging up the ocean floor help save the planet?

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Scientists are looking at what would happen if we were to dig up the ocean floor for metals.

They’re particularly interested in cobalt, which is a prime ingredient of the rechargeable batteries found in phones and electric cars.

As more and more of us choose to move away from fossil fuels, the demand for cobalt is even greater.

But what damage could mining the seabed do to marine life?

Video by Laura Foster

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Venice Floods Because of Highest Tide in 50 Years

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ROME — The mayor of Venice, who said that the city “was on its knees,” has called for a state of emergency and the closing of all schools after the Italian city was submerged under “acqua alta,” an exceptionally high tide — the highest in 50 years.

Outdoor restaurant tables and chairs could be seen bobbing in the waters, and tourists were forced to clamber through the windows of high-end hotels as the water rose to about six feet before 11 p.m. on Tuesday.

As dawn broke on Wednesday, the authorities began to survey the damage.

“I’ve seen things in San Marco I thought I’d never see,” Mayor Luigi Brugnaro of Venice told the Italian station Radio24. “It is a very difficult situation,” he added.

The flooding was the second highest in the city’s history, after the disastrous flood of 1966, which peaked at 6.3 feet. Last year, as severe weather in Italy killed 11 people, ferocious winds drove the high tide in Venice to more than five feet above average sea level.

Residents and tourists could be seen wading through water in rain boots. The water invaded the ground floors of many historic palazzos, stores, restaurants and hotels. At least three vaporetti, Venice’s public transportation boats, sank, Italian media reported. One floated over the banks that line the city’s canals, ending up perilously close to buildings.

Famous tourist spots like St. Mark’s Square were under several feet of water by Wednesday. The crypt of St. Mark’s Basilica was flooded by more than three feet of water, the Italian news agency ANSA reported. Almost exactly a year ago, after a violent storm had swept the city, concerns were raised about the basilica’s ability to withstand the effects of the changing climate, the growing number of days in which the city was under water, and the onslaught of tourists.

By Wednesday morning, the historic piazza was expected to be under five feet of water.

“Venice is on its knees,” the mayor said in a post on Twitter on Wednesday with photos showing him walking through the basilica with the city’s principal prelate, the patriarch of Venice, Francesco Moraglia.

The newspaper Il Gazzettino, under a banner headline, “Acqua Alta. Fear and Anger in Venice,” described the city’s residents as “barricaded in their homes.”

The home page of the city’s website bore no good news. More high water was expected in the coming days.

Italian news outlets reported that at least one man had died by electrocution while trying to pump water from his home in Pellestrina, an island that borders on the Venetian lagoon and forms a barrier against the Adriatic Sea.

Mr. Brugnaro said the situation in Pellestrina was critical because the water had overwhelmed sea walls.

“We can’t get the pumps to work because they are underwater,” the mayor said.

Italy has also invested billions of euros in a flood-protection system known by the acronym MOSE, but its offshore underwater dams have yet to be completed.

Though Venetian residents have gotten used to wading through flooded streets, strong winds on Tuesday coincided with the high tide, submerging the city.

“Acqua alta has always been normal,” said Lorenzo Bonometto, an expert on lagoon ecology. But the combined high tide and strong winds made the result “an exceptional event,” he said.

The frequency of acqua alta has become more troubling, experts say, and is linked to rising seawater levels, not only in Venice, but also around the world.

Sea levels are rising “at a faster rate” than experts had expected, and that is having a greater impact on the lagoon city, Mr. Bonometto said.

There is also the added fact that Venice is sinking.

Luigi Cavaleri, a at the Institute of Marine Sciences in Venice said the city’s subsidence and the rising sea levels meant that Venice was sinking at a rate of one-fifth of an inch a year. That means that the city will be submerged by water more frequently.

Mr. Cavaleri said last year’s storm was a much more serious event, but noted, “Floods will continue.”

Had the flood system been operational, he said, “the city might have been spared. Hopefully, it will be for the next flood.”

Antonio Gesualdi, a spokesman for the Consorzio Venezia Nuova, which has overseen the development and the construction the flood barriers, said that tests were being carried out, and that next year, tests would be carried out for acqua alta.

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Furman: ‘We want to come away with something’

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Cape Town – Bafana Bafana are desperate to return to South Africa with a positive result, says midfielder Dean Furman.

The national team are currently in Ghana preparing to take on the Black Stars as the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifying campaign kicks off this week.

In Group C, Bafana Bafana are accompanied by Ghana, Sudan and the lowly ranked São Tomé and Príncipe.

On Thursday, November 14 Ghana welcomes Molefi Ntseki’s Bafana Bafana charges to the Cape Coast Sports Stadium.

The match starts at 21:00 (SA time).

“There is a clean bill of health. Everyone is looking forward to playing,” said Furman ahead of the much-anticipated fixture.

“I think tonight is going to be a very important (training) session, so we can acclimatise and get used to the heat and the environment.

“Hopefully, (we) get to work on some tactics because it is going to be a very difficult game.”

During the 2019 AFCON qualifying campaign, South Africa qualified from Group E without any defeat along with African giants Nigeria.

Bafana Bafana beat the Super Eagles 2-0 in Uyo courtesy of goals from Tokelo Rantie and Percy Tau.

Furman believes that the away victory against Nigeria worked in Bafana’s favour and hopes that they can inflict similar damage against the Black Stars in Ghana.

“We’re definitely looking to come away with something. A win would be fantastic, and a point would be a great result because Ghana are also a top nation on this continent with some great players,” said Furman.

“We want to come away with something. We’ve travelled long and hard to get here. We want something to show for our efforts.

“We want to get off to a good start and then come home. I think our home form is going to be key for us in qualification.”

Earlier this year at the 2019 AFCON in Egypt, Bafana shocked the world in knocking out the host nation in the last 16.

That victory came under the tutelage of Stuart Baxter, who has since resigned as head coach.

The Ghana clash will be Ntseki’s second match in charge since his interim gig was made permanent by the South African Football Association (SAFA) in August.  

His first official match in the dugout was a 2-1 victory over Mali in the Nelson Mandela Challenge last month.

Furman claims that Bafana Bafana’s progress at AFCON earlier this year along with the win over Mali has signaled to the rest of the continent that South Africa are a “force to be reckoned with”.

“That’s got to be the attitude going into this game (against Ghana). We don’t want to fear them,” Furman continued.

“We give them respect but we certainly believe that on our day we’re a match for anyone and can cause anyone problems.”

– Compiled by Tashreeq Vardien



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