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Abu Dhabi GP: Lewis Hamilton storms clear in Practice Two with rival Max Verstappen only fourth

Jacob Scott

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Lewis Hamilton turns tables on Max Verstappen by going fastest in Yas Marina’s evening practice; Esteban Ocon second, Valtteri Bottas third, Verstappen 0.6s off; Kimi Raikkonen crashes at end of P2; Decider in the Desert – watch final practice and qualifying live on Sky Sports on Saturday

By Matt Morlidge

Last Updated: 10/12/21 2:40pm

Lewis Hamilton landed the first significant blow of F1’s Decider in the Desert by comfortably topping the timesheets in Abu Dhabi GP Practice Two, with championship rival Max Verstappen well adrift back in fourth.

Hamilton, who was behind the pace-setting Verstappen in first practice, found form in Friday’s more representative evening session, finishing his soft-tyre qualifying simulations with a 0.3s advantage over the field.

Surprisingly Esteban Ocon led the chasing pack in the Alpine, with Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas third.

But more significant was the fact Verstappen ended the opening day of F1’s deciding round with a six-tenths deficit to Hamilton, the man he is tied on points with heading into a winner-takes-all finale this Sunday.

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Kimi Raikkonen hit the barriers at Turn 14 with quite significant damage done to his Alfa Romeo during the second practice session.

Kimi Raikkonen hit the barriers at Turn 14 with quite significant damage done to his Alfa Romeo during the second practice session.

Hamilton led with a 1:23.691 at Yas Marina’s much faster newly-configured track, with Verstappen only posting a 1:24.332.

“I feel great,” said Hamilton ahead of the crucial days in his hunt for an historic eighth crown. “Still a bit of a bit of unknown in terms of pace but I’m sure it’s going to be super close.”

Verstappen, desperate for his maiden F1 title, added: “Of course clearly the short run didn’t go to plan, lacking a bit of pace. But I think the long runs were quite a bit more competitive.”

A gripping weekend of action continues with final practice on Saturday before a crunch qualifying session, live on Sky Sports F1, Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Showcase from 12pm.

While Red Bull were off the pace over one lap compared to Mercedes in second practice, they will be encouraged by Sergio Perez’s pace as the Mexican was within a tenth of Verstappen in fifth.

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Ride onboard with Fernando Alonso’s helmet cam, as the Alpine driver speeds through the Yas Marina circuit during the second practice session.

Ride onboard with Fernando Alonso’s helmet cam, as the Alpine driver speeds through the Yas Marina circuit during the second practice session.

Fernando Alonso was sixth in the other Alpine, although would have been ahead of Verstappen and challenging the Mercedes if not for a lap deletion, having made a small track limits error on his best lap.

The AlphaTauri and Ferrari cars were the next most competitive in the midfield.

The session ended with a crash for Kimi Raikkonen in the Alfa Romeo, with the Finnish world champion – retiring after Abu Dhabi – losing the rear of his car on his very last lap and smashing into the barriers. Raikkonen was unhurt, though his team face a big repair job for his final weekend.

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Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen’s thrilling championship battle finishes with a winner-takes-all Abu Dhabi GP. Watch live on Sky Sports this weekend.

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen’s thrilling championship battle finishes with a winner-takes-all Abu Dhabi GP. Watch live on Sky Sports this weekend.

Decider in the Desert: How significant is Hamilton’s Friday advantage?

Looking at the timesheets at the end of Friday and the difference between Hamilton and Verstappen, Mercedes and Red Bull appears much bigger than expected, and ominously so for fans of the driver and team looking to end F1’s most dominant era.

Rarely have Hamilton and Verstappen been split by 0.641s or more at any stage of this thrilling season.

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Lewis Hamilton reflects after finishing top during the second practice ahead of the Abu Dhabi GP.

Lewis Hamilton reflects after finishing top during the second practice ahead of the Abu Dhabi GP.

But while Verstappen admitted Red Bull were still “learning and understanding” and had things to clean up, his team pointed to the pace at the end of Practice Two as a huge source of encouragement.

On the ‘race runs’ which are vital for Sunday’s 58 laps, Verstappen was much faster than Hamilton with high fuel.

“They look very competitive here,” said Red Bull boss Christian Horner of Mercedes. “We just need to tidy up the balance for the short run.”

The season has also seen many bounce-backs from the leading teams, who often completely change their fortunes for the weekend with Friday night setup changes.

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Max Verstappen reflects after finishing top during the opening practice ahead of the Abu Dhabi GP.

Max Verstappen reflects after finishing top during the opening practice ahead of the Abu Dhabi GP.

What does appear to be clear is that Mercedes have a straight-line speed advantage, as predicted, and are particularly quick through the middle sector, with Red Bull fast at the twisty end of the lap.

The final standings come Sunday, in both the race and of course the championship, could be dictated by which team finds more improvements overnight into a critical qualifying day.

Abu Dhabi GP Practice Two Timesheet

Driver Team Time 1) Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:23.691 2) Esteban Ocon Alpine +0.343 3) Valtteri Bottas Mercedes +0.392 4) Max Verstappen Red Bull +0:641 5) Sergio Perez Red Bull +0.709 6) Fernando Alonso Alpine +0.804 7) Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri +0.841 8) Charles Leclerc Ferrari +0.866 9) Carlos Sainz Ferrari +1.153 10) Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri +1.249 11) Daniel Ricciardo McLaren +1.268 12) Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo +1.417 13) Lando Norris McLaren +1.462 14) Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin +1.504 15) Lance Stroll Aston Martin +1.694 16) Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo +1.749 17) George Russell Williams +1.858 18) Nicholas Latifi Williams +1.996 19) Mick Schumacher Haas +2.093 20) Nikita Mazepin Haas +2.645

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‘Moon Knight’ Took Marvel in a Different Orbit, but It Didn’t Rise to the Occasion

Jacob Scott

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Before anyone writes that off as an anomaly, “Eternals” tackled a similar introduction of a dense mythology on the bigger screen, with equally mixed results. It’s a reminder that while film-goers have had more than a decade to get to know characters like Iron Man, Captain America and Thor, introducing some of these lesser-known heroes can pose a more formidable challenge beyond catering to the most ardent fans.
For Marvel, there are warning signs in that, since “Moon Knight” will be followed by several series based on second-tier characters, although the next two on the horizon, “Ms. Marvel” (which is due in June) and “She-Hulk,” at least have the benefit of sharing franchises and name recognition with existing Avengers.
Ultimately, “Moon Knight’s” murky storytelling appeared to squander its principal assets, which included the cool look of the character — a costume that was too seldom used — and the presence of Isaac, who possesses additional genre credentials via the “Star Wars” sequels.

Taking its time in peeling back the layers of the character’s complicated backstory, “Moon Knight” took a weird plunge into the Egyptian mythology behind it, in ways that became increasingly confounding and surreal.

By the time the protagonist’s two halves, Steven Grant and Marc Spector, wound up in a psychiatric hospital talking to an anthropomorphic hippo in the penultimate chapter, the question wasn’t so much being able to keep up with the story as whether bothering to do so was worth the effort.

The sixth and final episode brought the plot to a messy close, seeking to stop the goddess Ammit from proceeding to “purify the souls of Cairo, and then the world.” In the customary credit sequence, the producers capped that off by introducing a third personality, Jake Lockley, also rooted in the comics. While that seemingly spelled the end for the show’s villain (Ethan Hawke), the finish — giving the god Khonshu the protégé he sought — paved the way for further adventures should Marvel so choose.

That last twist might be cause for celebration in narrower confines of the Marvel fan universe, but “Moon Knight” too often felt like it was one long Easter-egg sequence, conspicuously preaching to that choir.

Granted, Marvel has made clear that Disney+ offers the chance to explore different kinds of stories, but “Moon Knight” feels at best like a quirky showcase for Isaac and at worst a failed experiment in terms of execution and tone.

That doesn’t mean this “Moon” won’t somehow rise again, if the closely held streaming data justifies it. But the promise that surrounded this property has faded, providing further evidence that even Marvel isn’t immune from setbacks as it moves into its next phase.

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Start-up Pony.ai says it’s the first self-driving company to get a taxi license in China

Jacob Scott

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Autonomous driving start-up Pony.ai can collect fares for robotaxi rides in parts of two major Chinese cities as of Sunday.

Pony.ai handout

BEIJING — Self-driving start-up Pony.ai announced Sunday it received a taxi license, the first of its kind in China.

The license allows Pony.ai to operate 100 self-driving cars as traditional taxis in the Nansha district of the southern city of Guangzhou, the company said.

The Chinese start-up, which is backed by Toyota, received approval from Beijing city late last year to charge fees to operate a commercial robotaxi business in a suburban district of the city. It is not the same as a taxi licence.

Baidu’s Apollo Go also received approval in the same Beijing district last year.

Pony.ai was valued at $8.5 billion in early March. The company said its Nansha taxi license required 24 months of autonomous driving testing in China and/or other countries, and no involvement in any active liability traffic accidents, among other factors.

The start-up said it plans to launch commercial robotaxi businesses in two other large Chinese cities next year. The company is already testing self-driving cars in those cities and in California. 

Robotaxis in China currently have a human driver present for safety.

— CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.

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How to watch Timberwolves vs. Grizzlies: TV channel, NBA live stream info, start time

Jacob Scott

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Who’s Playing

Memphis @ Minnesota

Current Records: Memphis 2-1; Minnesota 1-2

What to Know

The Memphis Grizzlies’ road trip will continue as they head to Target Center at 10 p.m. ET this past Saturday to face off against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Memphis will be strutting in after a win while Minnesota will be stumbling in from a loss.

The Grizzlies are hoping for another victory. They beat the Timberwolves 104-95 this past Thursday. The victory came about thanks to a strong surge after the first quarter to overcome a 39-21 deficit. Memphis’ success was spearheaded by the efforts of power forward Brandon Clarke, who had 20 points in addition to eight rebounds, and shooting guard Desmond Bane, who shot 7-for-15 from beyond the arc and finished with 26 points and six boards.

Barring any buzzer beaters, Memphis is expected to win a tight contest. They might be worth taking a chance on against the spread as they are currently on a two-game streak of ATS wins.

Memphis’ win brought them up to 2-1 while the Timberwolves’ defeat pulled them down to a reciprocal 1-2. A couple offensive stats to keep in the back of your head while watching: The Grizzlies come into the game boasting the second most points per game in the league at 115.6. But Minnesota is even better: they rank first in the league when it comes to points per game, with 115.9 on average. Tune in for what’s sure to be a high-scoring contest.

How To Watch

When: Saturday at 10 p.m. ET Where: Target Center — Minneapolis, Minnesota TV: ESPN Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.) Follow: CBS Sports App Ticket Cost: $76.96

Odds

The Grizzlies are a slight 2.5-point favorite against the Timberwolves, according to the latest NBA odds.

The oddsmakers had a good feel for the line for this one, as the game opened with the Grizzlies as a 3-point favorite.

Over/Under: -110

See NBA picks for every single game, including this one, from SportsLine’s advanced computer model. Get picks now.

Series History

Memphis have won 19 out of their last 28 games against Minnesota.

Apr 21, 2022 – Memphis 104 vs. Minnesota 95 Apr 19, 2022 – Memphis 124 vs. Minnesota 96 Apr 16, 2022 – Minnesota 130 vs. Memphis 117 Feb 24, 2022 – Minnesota 119 vs. Memphis 114 Jan 13, 2022 – Memphis 116 vs. Minnesota 108 Nov 20, 2021 – Minnesota 138 vs. Memphis 95 Nov 08, 2021 – Memphis 125 vs. Minnesota 118 May 05, 2021 – Memphis 139 vs. Minnesota 135 Apr 02, 2021 – Memphis 120 vs. Minnesota 108 Jan 13, 2021 – Memphis 118 vs. Minnesota 107 Jan 07, 2020 – Memphis 119 vs. Minnesota 112 Dec 01, 2019 – Memphis 115 vs. Minnesota 107 Nov 06, 2019 – Memphis 137 vs. Minnesota 121 Mar 23, 2019 – Minnesota 112 vs. Memphis 99 Feb 05, 2019 – Memphis 108 vs. Minnesota 106 Jan 30, 2019 – Minnesota 99 vs. Memphis 97 Nov 18, 2018 – Memphis 100 vs. Minnesota 87 Apr 09, 2018 – Minnesota 113 vs. Memphis 94 Mar 26, 2018 – Memphis 101 vs. Minnesota 93 Dec 04, 2017 – Memphis 95 vs. Minnesota 92 Feb 04, 2017 – Memphis 107 vs. Minnesota 99 Nov 19, 2016 – Memphis 93 vs. Minnesota 71 Nov 01, 2016 – Minnesota 116 vs. Memphis 80 Oct 26, 2016 – Memphis 102 vs. Minnesota 98 Mar 16, 2016 – Minnesota 114 vs. Memphis 108 Feb 19, 2016 – Memphis 109 vs. Minnesota 104 Jan 23, 2016 – Minnesota 106 vs. Memphis 101 Nov 15, 2015 – Memphis 114 vs. Minnesota 106

Injury Report for Minnesota

No Injury Information

Injury Report for Memphis

Dillon Brooks: Game-Time Decision (Foot) Santi Aldama: Out (Knee) Killian Tillie: Out (Knee)

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