After qualifying yesterday, Lewis Hamilton was staring down the barrel of a sizeable deficit to Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg at the top of the drivers’ championship. A fuel leak had caused a fire on his car during qualifying, meaning that he had to start the race from the pit lane.
However, through the rain, two safety car periods and a spin on the first lap of the race, the Briton stormed through to finish on the podium and – crucially – ahead of Rosberg, who came home in fourth.
Mercedes opted to split its drivers’ strategies, with Rosberg pitting one extra time but using the quicker tire for both stints. Despite making two requests for Hamilton to allow the German driver past, the Briton did not yield. Ultimately, it played a huge part in securing him a podium finish, as he cut the gap to Rosberg at the top of the drivers’ standings to eleven points.
“A big thank you to the team, great job in the pit stops and with the strategy,” Hamilton said. “I just tried my best, the car’s been fantastic when it’s going. Obviously a lot points lost, because we could have had a much better weekend, but we’ve got a lot of strengths to look forward to anyway.”
Hamilton spun off on the first lap of the race with cold brakes after starting in the pit lane, but he was pleased to reduce the gap to Rosberg.
“To be honest, at the beginning, obviously a mistake myself with the brakes were very, very cold, and locked up, and I was gone,” he explained. “Fortunately I got going again, thank the Lord I didn’t damage the car, and damage limitation again.”
However, he does not think that it is one of his best ever drives in Formula 1, even if the F1 paddock suggests otherwise.
The sport now takes a four week break before the Belgian Grand Prix at the end of August, with the teams set to enjoy two weeks off during this period.
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.