Hamilton calls today’s testing crash “a small hiccup” (VIDEO)

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Mercedes driver and former World Champion Lewis Hamilton kept things positive after his Turn One crash today during Formula One testing at Jerez de la Frontera, Spain.

Hamilton suffered a front-wing failure on the new Mercedes W05 before sliding off the track, through a gravel trap and into the tire barriers. He had completed 18 laps prior to the incident, which he took in stride.

“We had a small hiccup but we’ll bounce back from it and hopefully, it’s the first of very few for us,” he said in a team release. “When the car doesn’t stop under braking, it’s always a bit of a heart-in-the-mouth moment but I’ve had a few of those in my career so I’m used to it.

“Initially, I didn’t really know what happened; I braked but the car didn’t slow down and it’s always a little nervy in those moments. But I’m still walking and that’s the main thing.”

Other than the “hiccup,” Hamilton indicated he was pleased with the day overall.

“We had done the most laps of anyone up to [the accident] – and seeing how few cars have been going out on track today shows just how big an achievement our morning’s work had been – so I’m not concerned,” he said.

“Of course, the more running you do, the better placed you’ll be by the time you get to the first race, but to have already done this many laps in just half a day is a really good start.”

Multiple reports from Jerez say that Mercedes will be working overnight to find a wing solution in time for tomorrow, when Hamilton’s teammate, Nico Rosberg, is scheduled to jump in the W05.

“The car now needs to be repaired, which is a challenge in itself at the start of winter testing with regards to the number of spare parts available,” said Mercedes-Benz Motorsport head Toto Wolff. “However, it’s our job to cope with those challenges.”

In the meantime, a YouTube video has begun to go around that involves an at-track reporter from Spanish television network Antena 3 who wound up having the skidding Hamilton as an unexpected visitor. The footage appears to show the moment of the W05’s wing failure, followed by the British driver’s journey into the tires.

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”