Points for Grosjean, but Maldonado fails to start

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Lotus F1 Team once again experienced a grand prix of highs and lows in Monaco, with Romain Grosjean’s points haul being juxtaposed by Pastor Maldonado’s failure to start the race.

Maldonado has gained a lot of criticism this year for his aggressive driving style, but he had no control over a suspected fuel pump issue that meant his car could not start on the grid. He had qualified in 15th place, his best result of the season.

“We don’t know yet precisely what happened,” he explained after the race. “The engine switched off after 30 seconds. When we did out laps to the grid the car and the power unit were working well. We need to work to find out what the problem was.

“It is disappointing and I was expecting a solid race, we had a good strategy in place, I love this circuit where I have been competitive in the past. We have already worked hard on performance and reliability but today it was not to be. This afternoon we’re not happy but we are keeping focused on improving.”

Grosjean’s race appeared to take a turn for the worse just a few minutes later when he was forced to pit under the first safety car period due to a puncture. He then took his time passing the backmarkers, but ultimately fought his way through to finish ninth on track, which became eighth following Jules Bianchi’s five second penalty.

“It’s good to finish the race here for the first time in my career and it’s good to get some points too,” he said. “It started as a pretty bad Sunday for us with a puncture for me on the first lap after Adrian drove into me. We swapped to the soft tires but it was impossible to overtake on these so we came back in for the super softs.

“The safety car timing didn’t help us as we’d just gone out on the new tyres, but that’s Monaco. You can have thousands of misfortunes in the race, but still be in the points at the end!”

By failing to start, Maldonado’s record of never finishing the Monaco Grand Prix has been extended, but he will know that the inherent pace of the Lotus E22 should put him in the running to score some points in Canada.

Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

Hunter Jett Lawrence fans
Align Media
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ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”