As part of the support programme for this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, some of the nation’s Formula 1 legends have been reunited with their old cars for a special Hall of Fame parade.
Most notably, three-time world champion Niki Lauda will be driving his Ferrari 312T2 car from the 1976 Formula 1 season, in which he fought back from a devastating crash and life-threatening at the German Grand Prix to finish second in the championship behind James Hunt. The story was most recently detailed in Ron Howard’s film Rush, which came out last year.
Gerhard Berger will also be taking part in the hall of fame race, running in his Ferrari 88C which he took to third place in the 1988 world championship.
Lauda and Berger will be joined out on track by a number of other former Austrian F1 drivers, including Helmut Marko, who is now an advisor at Red Bull. He will be getting behind the wheel of a 1972 BRM. From more recent years, Christian Klien will be driving his 2005 Red Bull RB1, Patrick Friesacher is in the Minardi from the same year, and Alex Wurz will be in the 1998 Benetton car.
After the hype of Rush last year, seeing Lauda behind the wheel of his car from that year is certainly going to bring back some good memories of the 1970s, and it is a great way to build up for the Austrian Grand Prix later today.
Gerhard Berger about today’s Hall of Fame parade: “It’s going to be a fair race. Marko’s only one eye, I have only one arm and Niki one ear”
Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.
Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.
On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.
One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.
After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.
The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.
Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.
“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”
Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.
“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”
But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.
“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.
“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”
Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.
“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.
“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”
The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.