Sainz frustrated with ninth place slump in Q3

McLaren’s Carlos Sainz was clearly unhappy to finish the last qualifying session of the 2019 season with a below-par performance in Q3.

Sainz was sixth in the second round, but too many cars jockeying for position meant he wasn’t able to match his earlier time when it came to the top ten pole shoot-out round.

“I’m very disappointed with that P9 when I’d been very strong in Q1 and Q2,” he admitted afterwards.

“I was looking forward to putting another good lap together in Q3,” he said. “Honestly I was disappointed because I’d been flying in Q1 and Q2 and had a bit of a buffer in the midfield.

  • Hamilton and Bottas top final qualifying of 2019 in Abu Dhabi

“I don’t know how we managed to get ourselves in trouble in Q3 with those outlaps,” he admitted. “Mercedes were fighting with Verstappen, overtaking me, couldn’t put temperature in the front tyres.

“By the exit of turn 1, I was already one tenth down on my Q2 lap,” he pointed out. “It’s a shame, because matching my Q2 lap would have put us P7 easily.

“When you have a two or three tenth buffer on the midfield you want to capitalise on it, but now I have to start behind them,” he said

Sainz is also keenly aware that starting on the soft compound means that he’ll be under attack from those behind him such as Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly who will have a free choice of tyres for the start of the race.

“They’re going to be chasing me. They’re going to be chasing basically all the soft runners. I think we have a very good chance of finishing ahead of Gasly because we have track position, but at the same time he has a very good chance of having a better strategy.

“Disappointed, but at the same time we need to keep learning from these little details,” he added, turning his attention to tomorrow’s race.

“This has been a track where I’ve struggled [in the past] so today to be so fast in qualifying motivates me,” he said. “I was feeling at home in the car, I was understanding what to do in every moment.

Although he finished qualifying in ninth, an engine penalty for Valtteri Bottas will promote the Spanish driver to eighth place on the grid.

“I expect a tough race tomorrow,” he said. “IT’s going to be be a tight one.”

The result of Saturday’s qualifying session means that Sainz narrowly loses out in the season-long battle with his rookie team mate Lando Norris for the overall best performance.

Norris has managed to start ahead of Sainz on the grid on 11 occasions in 2019, compared to 10 times that Sainz has had the edge.

“It’s the only thing everyone has said in every interview: ‘Nice job, 11-10 in qualifying!” Norris said to Sky Sports F1, although he didn’t think his last push lap had been a good final effort.

“It was nice, it was a good lap, I didn’t make any big mistakes,” he said. “But it was just decent, it wasn’t anything amazing or the best lap of my life.

“It was just controlling the tyres, making sure you didn’t do wheel spins or oversteers,” he added. “Here it’s so sensitive to one oversteer that it can all go wrong very quickly!

“I did it in Q2, or Q1 – I pushed too much in turn 1 already and had a huge oversteer. By the end of the lap the tyre temps were way too high already. Sometimes you’ve got to drive slower to go quicker.

“We achieved P7 but a P6 grid start taking into account the Bottas penalty so I’m happy,” Norris continued.

“It’s been a pretty good couple of days. I’ve generally been fairly comfortable with the car, which has been positive.

“We knew qualie was going to be tough and our aim was to get into Q3 and we did that. We’re ahead of the midfield guys we wanted to beat, so that’s a bonus.

“It couldn’t have been any better in terms of positions. It’s a good way to end the season.”

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Where things stand in court fights over Trump tax returns

Lawsuits over President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump mocks Newsweek over story on Thanksgiving plans Obama looms over divided Democratic primary Fox News host on Warren: ‘Fitting’ to talk about ‘Pocahontas’ on Thanksgiving MORE’s tax returns and financial records are making their way through the court system, with some before the Supreme Court.

Trump is the first president in decades who hasn’t made any of his tax returns public, and he has been vigorously pursuing court action to keep information about his taxes and finances private. 

Recent court actions have been a mixed bag for Trump. In two lawsuits, Trump has lost at the appeals court level and is hoping that the Supreme Court will take up the cases. But in another, Republicans have scored a decisive win.


Here are the latest developments in the lawsuits over Trump’s tax returns and financial records.


Trump’s challenge to the Manhattan district attorney’s subpoena for his tax returns

The parties in Trump’s lawsuit over New York prosecutors’ subpoena for his tax returns are waiting to hear if the Supreme Court will take up the case.

As part of a grand jury investigation, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in August issued a subpoena to Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, for the president’s personal and business tax returns and other financial records. The following month, Trump filed a lawsuit against Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. (D) and Mazars in an effort to block the subpoena, arguing that the subpoena is unlawful because presidents have immunity from being criminally investigated.

Federal judges in New York at both the district and appeals court levels have ruled against Trump. The appeals court said in its ruling that presidential immunity doesn’t bar the enforcement of the DA’s subpoena.

Trump’s lawyers have appealed the case to the Supreme Court, arguing in their petition earlier this month that the lower courts ruled incorrectly and that “whether the President is absolutely immune is an important and unsettled issue of federal law that the Court should resolve.” The Justice Department also urged the Supreme Court to hear the case. 


But the Manhattan DA’s office said the Supreme Court shouldn’t hear the case, arguing that the court’s intervention isn’t necessary because the appeals court correctly applied past precedents in rejecting Trump’s argument about sweeping presidential immunity.

Trump’s petition is scheduled to be considered by the Supreme Court justices in a conference on Dec. 13.

The DA’s office has agreed not to enforce the subpoena until the Supreme Court issues a final determination in the case.


Trump’s challenge to the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s subpoena for his financial records

The second case that Trump wants the Supreme Court to take up is his lawsuit challenging the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s subpoena to accounting firm Mazars for his financial records.

The Democratic-led committee issued the subpoena in April. Unlike the subpoena New York prosecutors issued to Mazars, the Oversight and Reform Committee’s subpoena does not explicitly request Trump’s tax returns.

District and appellate judges in Washington, D.C., have sided with House Democrats, agreeing with them that the subpoena is enforceable and has valid legislative purposes.

The Supreme Court on Monday issued a stay of the subpoena until it disposes of the case. It has asked Trump to file his petition for why the Supreme Court should hear the case by Dec. 5.


Challenges to California’s tax return law

Republicans’ biggest victory so far has come in California, where the state’s highest court last week struck down a state law that would have required Trump and other presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns in order to appear on the 2020 primary ballot.

The California Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the presidential tax-return disclosure requirement violated a portion of the state’s constitution, siding with the California Republican Party over California Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D). The state Supreme Court’s ruling cannot be appealed.

There had also been several legal challenges to the California law in federal court. In October, a district judge in California granted a preliminary injunction against the law, and the state had appealed to the federal court of appeals for the ninth circuit. But after the California Supreme Court issued its ruling, Padilla and Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin Christopher NewsomWhere things stand in court fights over Trump tax returns California high court strikes down state law targeting Trump tax returns The Hill’s Morning Report – Wild Wednesday: Sondland testimony, Dem debate take center stage MORE (D) filed a motion seeking to have their federal appeal dismissed.



The House Ways and Means Committee’s lawsuit over Trump’s federal tax returns

The case over House Democrats’ efforts to obtain Trump’s tax returns from the IRS has moved slower than some of the other lawsuits.

The House Ways and Means Committee filed the lawsuit in July, after the Treasury Department and IRS rejected committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealWhere things stand in court fights over Trump tax returns Pelosi signals USMCA deal is ‘within range’ States embrace nudge theory to promote retirement savings MORE’s (D-Mass.) requests and subpoenas for six years of Trump’s federal tax filings. 

In September, lawyers for the Trump administration, along with Trump’s personal lawyers, filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The motion made a number of arguments, including that the House lacked standing to sue and that it has failed to state a claim on which it could receive relief.

Judge Trevor McFadden, a federal district judge in Washington D.C. and a Trump appointee, held a hearing on the administration’s motion earlier this month. During the hearing, he appeared supportive of the idea that his court has subject-matter jurisdiction over the case under Article III of the Constitution, but expressed reservations about letting all of the House’s counts move forward, asking the House’s lawyers if they would be OK with proceeding on only some of their counts. He also signaled that he would like the House and the administration to think about negotiating a resolution.

McFadden has yet to issue a ruling.



Trump’s lawsuit over his New York state tax returns

Several key developments occurred in November in Trump’s case aimed at blocking the House Ways and Means Committee from obtaining his New York state tax returns under a New York law.

First, Judge Carl Nichols, a Trump appointee in federal district court in D.C., dismissed two New York officials from the lawsuit. Nichols agreed with the officials that the federal court in D.C. don’t have jurisdiction over them.

One week later, Nichols ordered the Ways and Means Committee to give the court and Trump notice if they request the president’s state tax returns from the New York Department of Taxation and Finance, and ordered the committee to not receive any requested state tax returns for a period of 14 days.

The House’s lawyers have said that Neal hasn’t yet determined whether he will request Trump’s state tax returns. Neal’s focus has been on trying to obtain Trump’s federal tax returns, and he may never end up seeking the state filings.



Trump’s challenge to House committees’ subpoenas to his banks

Trump’s lawsuit challenging the House Intelligence and Financial Services committees’ subpoenas for his bank records is currently pending before the federal appeals court in New York.

The two committees issued subpoenas earlier this year to Deutsche Bank and Capital One seeking financial records for Trump, his three oldest children and his businesses. The subpoenas aren’t being enforced while the appeals court considers the case.

During oral arguments in the case in August, the appeals court asked the banks if they had any tax returns relevant to the subpoenas. Subsequently, Capital One told the appeals court that it does not have any relevant tax returns. Deutsche Bank has told the court that it has tax returns relevant to the subpoena for two individuals, but that neither of those individuals are Trump.

A group of media outlets — including The Associated Press, CNN and The New York Times — had filed a motion to unseal the names of the people whose tax returns Deutsche Bank has, but the appeals court rejected that motion in October.

Why Balotelli remains an outsider in Italy – even in his own city

The striker was racially abused in Verona on November 3 yet some of his own club’s fans turned on him before the president labelled him “fragile”

Six years ago, Mario Balotelli was asked in an interview with Sports Illustrated what it was like “to be black and Italian”.

“It’s amazing,” the striker enthused. “And now there are a lot more coming, so I’m not alone anymore.”

There are indeed more Italians of colour in 2019. Whether they feel it is “amazing” in the current political climate is open to debate.

One also wonders if Balotelli no longer feels alone. Presently, he appears as isolated as he has ever been, not just in his own country, but his own hometown.

When Balotelli’s summer transfer to Brescia was completed, he took to Instagram to declare, “Finally, I’m returning to MY CITY.”

Balotelli was born in Palermo in 1990 to Ghanaian parents but placed in foster care at the age of one and ultimately raised in Brescia by Francesco and Silvia Balotelli.

He grew up in a neighbourhood in which he never experienced any racism. It was only when he ventured outside his beloved Brescia that sometimes “stupid people said stupid things”.

Sadly, nothing has changed in that regard. The only difference is that now even some Bresciani are saying stupid things about Balotelli.

That the forward was subjected to monkey chants by a small but audible group of Verona fans during a game at the Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi on November 3 was sadly unsurprising. Balotelli has been racially abused by opposition fans on numerous occasions throughout his career, in Italy and abroad.

What made this episode particularly depressing, though, was the reaction of some of his ‘own people’.

Just two days after the match, a prominent Verona ultra conducted an interview with Radio Cafe which was shocking even by Italian football’s low standards on racial discourse.

As well as repeatedly referring to Balotelli as a “negro” and insisting that he will never be considered “completely Italian” because of his heritage, Luca Castellini claimed that the racial abuse was all in the player’s head.

By way of a response, Brescia ultras then issued a statement of their own, condemning not only Castellini – but also Balotelli, whom they accused of “arrogance”.

For them, the victim here wasn’t Balotelli but the common ultra, whom they believe is being unfairly targeted by the authorities. Essentially, there was more support among Brescia’s hardcore fans for Castellini than Balotelli.

The situation has only worsened since then.

After Balotelli had been sent home from training by new coach Fabio Grosso for a perceived lack of effort ahead of last weekend’s trip to Roma, Brescia president Massimo Cellino kicked off another race row by describing Balotelli’s demeanour as “nero” (‘black’) and explaining that the 29-year-old was “working to lighten himself”.

The club attempted to portray the comments as “a joke”, while Cellino doubled down by saying he wouldn’t have signed the former AC Milan star if he’d known “he were so fragile”.

Cellino concluded by saying that “Balotelli hasn’t smiled since Verona” yet, staggeringly, didn’t seem to ask himself why. The notion that the events of November 3 may still be bothering Balotelli didn’t appear to cross his mind.

In Italy, people often claim that they don’t dislike Balotelli because of the colour of his skin; but because of his ‘sulky’ demeanour or ‘combustible’ character.

Granted, he has a history of ill-discipline, which has created problems for him throughout his career.

Patrick Vieira worked with Balotelli at Nice last year and admitted that sometimes he wanted to “just slam him up against the wall or leave him hanging by his collar on the coat rack”, while Didier Drogba felt compelled to give his fellow forward some advice ahead of his January move to Marseille.

Even Roberto Mancini, who treats Balotelli like a son, very nearly came to blows with the forward during their time together at Manchester City.

Yet what many seem to overlook is the cumulative effect years of personal attacks have had on Balotelli.

“I am not a robot, nor an epidemic or even an idiot,” he wrote on Instagram last year. “Many times I don’t reply, to avoid problems and unnecessary tension, but I hear and see it all and it accumulates and I get fed up too.”

All Balotelli has ever wanted was to be accepted. When he was finally able to secure citizenship upon turning 18, he declared, “I feel Italian. I am Italian. I will represent Italy always.”

And yet he admitted last year that he might not accept an Azzurri recall even if one was forthcoming.

He said: “Have you ever thought that, and it might never happen, but one day you could need me and I’d be ready the same way I have been for the last three years, but hearing some of you insulting, denigrating and underestimating me over the years, I might be tired emotionally and therefore refuse to go?

“I just ask that you respect me as much as I respect Italy and then we’ll be fine. I don’t expect to be mollycoddled or considered a phenomenon, but I guarantee that you could only get the best out of me with respect, because I am doing nothing to warrant this disrespect.”

Or the incessant racial abuse. Yet nothing is done. Ever. Just the usual talk followed by the same inaction.

Balotelli was particularly upset by what unfolded in Verona earlier this month because his daughter Pia was watching on television: “That made it hurt three times as much. It’s also happened to her before and you cannot insult a child saying words like that. We adults have to set the standard and show how to be civil.”

Kevin-Prince Boateng has been banging that drum ever since he walked off the field after being racially abused during a friendly game between AC Milan and Pro Patria six years ago.

When he saw what happened to Balotelli in Verona, he not only pledged to set up his own task force to tackle racism, he also tried admirably to hammer home the point that, “Those that have never been scarred by it can never really understand it. Or know what it feels like.”

What really grates, though, is that many people within the Italian footballing community are not even trying to understand what it feels like. Or why Balotelli behaves as he does sometimes. Or why his smile so regularly disappears.

He has been included in the Brescia squad for Saturday’s meeting with Atalanta at the Stadio Mario Rigamonti. If he plays, we should find out if Balotelli is still alone.

Or if he remains an outsider – even in his own city.

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