Massa: Conditions were dangerous at end of Japanese GP


Felipe Massa has said that he was “screaming” over the radio towards the end of today’s Japanese Grand Prix because of the dangerous conditions the drivers were racing in.

The race at Suzuka was overshadowed by an accident for Marussia’s Jules Bianchi with eight laps remaining. The Frenchman crashed into a vehicle being used to recover Adrian Sutil’s Sauber from turn eight after he spun off in the wet conditions.

The FIA confirmed after the race that Bianchi was unconscious and was being transferred to Mie General Hospital, where he is now undergoing surgery for a severe head injury.

[RELATED: Race result secondary to Bianchi’s status, Vettel says]

This weekend’s schedule was subject to much debate due to the presence of Typhoon Phanfone, which caused the torrential downpour at Suzuka. After starting the race as planned at 3pm local time behind the safety car, the race was red flagged after just two laps before restarting 20 minutes later once conditions had improved.

Eventually, it was dry enough to allow the drivers to race without the safety car leading the pack, only for a second downpour to sharply hit the track late on.

In Massa’s eyes, the conditions towards the end were too dangerous to be racing in.

“In my opinion they started the race too early because it was not driveable at the beginning,” the Williams driver said. “They finished the race too late.

“I was already screaming on the radio five laps before the safety car that there was too much water on the track, but then they just took a little bit too long and it was dangerous.

“So we saw that there was some crash at the end and just need to understand what’s happened to Jules, that’s my only worry in the moment.”

Jack Miller wins MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his points slide


Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.