Hamilton fights back to claim sensational Italian GP victory

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MONZA, ITALY – Lewis Hamilton has claimed a sensational victory at Monza in the Italian Grand Prix, fighting back from a poor start to defeat teammate and championship rival Nico Rosberg on Sunday afternoon.

The British driver dropped down to fourth place at the start of the race, but managed to fight his way back up into contention for the race win. When Rosberg made a mistake at the halfway point in the race, the Briton slipped into the lead and did not look back.

The two Mercedes drivers had started side-by-side on the front row of the grid, prompting many to expect another on-track collision like the one we saw in Belgium two weeks ago. However, it was a very clean fight at the front, and one that Rosberg was clearly second best in.

Off the line, pole-sitter Hamilton made a terrible start to allow Rosberg into the lead of the race, alleviating any concerns that many had about contact between the two drivers at the first corner. The German driver was followed by McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen, who jumped up from fifth place on the grid as Valtteri Bottas, who had started third, slipped outside of the top ten. His Williams teammate, Felipe Massa, ran third ahead of Hamilton.

Both managed to find a way past Magnussen on lap five, moving Hamilton up into the top three. However, he was now stuck behind Massa, allowing Rosberg to scamper away at the head of the field although he could not create too great a gap at the front, with the Williams behind managing to match and even better his lap times.

Rosberg soon began to struggle with tire wear, locking up at the first chicane to allow the chasing duo to close the gap to within two seconds. Hamilton soon disposed of Massa with a superb overtake at the first chicane, and duly set his sights on catching his teammate and championship rival at the front of the field.

Further back, Bottas began his fightback, working his way up into the top six with some great overtakes on Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen, Sergio Perez and Jenson Button. After his good start, Magnussen found himself in fourth, but soon also lost out to the Finn; Bottas may have lost the chance to win, but he appeared to have salvaged a good haul of points. After pitting though, he found himself stuck in traffic behind Magnussen once again, with Vettel running ahead in fourth.

Hamilton’s relentless pace soon drew him close enough to Rosberg to pick up a tow, giving him a speed advantage in a straight line. Come the first round of pit stops though, it was Nico who still led, albeit by less than two seconds.

The pressure soon tolled as Rosberg locked up for a second time at the first chicane, allowing Hamilton into the lead of the race. The Briton soon put in a fastest lap to extend his lead over his teammate to over two seconds, and by lap 30, the recovery was complete.

Ferrari’s home race took a turn for the worse on lap 29 when Fernando Alonso’s car ground to a halt at the end of the main straight. This left Kimi Raikkonen as the sole Maranello runner in the race, sitting in the final points-scoring position of tenth.

Bottas’ charge was stunted by traffic in the battle for fourth place. Sebastian Vettel was the man leading the way, but just three seconds separated five cars, with Button and Magnussen pushing to score some much-needed points at McLaren. However, the latter soon found himself under investigation from the stewards forcing Bottas off-track at turn one. By the time the Finn had found a way past, the stewards handed Magnussen a five-second stop/go penalty which would be added to his final race time.

Once he had passed Vettel for fourth, Bottas soon escaped the train of cars and scurried down the road. Further back though, Sergio Perez entered a great fight with Jenson Button for position, only for both drivers to ultimately be passed by Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull.

The Australian soon managed to catch and pass Magnussen for sixth, and quickly began to catch Vettel in the sister Red Bull for fifth place. He made light work of the four-time world champion, overtaking him with five laps to go.

Out in front, Hamilton was dominant. After losing the lead just past half-distance, Rosberg had no answer for his teammate’s pace, and was forced to settle for second place at the flag. However, he does still lead the drivers’ championship by 22 points with this result.

Felipe Massa rounded out the podium positions for Williams with a superb performance that marked his first top-three finish since the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix. Teammate Valtteri Bottas came home in fourth, promoting Williams up to third place in the constructors’ championship as Ferrari could score just two points at its home race thanks to Kimi Raikkonen in ninth.

Daniel Ricciardo continued his rule over Sebastian Vettel by finishing one place ahead of his teammate in fifth, whilst Sergio Perez secured seventh following Magnussen’s penalty. The Dane was eventually classified tenth behind teammate Jenson Button and Raikkonen.

At Monza today, nobody had an answer for Lewis Hamilton. The British driver produced a sensational drive to defeat his teammate and cut the gap at the top of the standings to Rosberg.

Formula 1 returns in two weeks’ time with the Singapore Grand Prix. With six races to go, can Hamilton overhaul Rosberg at the top to win a second world title?

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

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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.”