McLaren enjoys best weekend since Australia in P4 and P5

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McLaren has moved back above Force India in the battle for fifth place in the Formula 1 constructors’ championship after enjoying its best weekend since the Australian Grand Prix back in March at the Sochi Autodrom today.

Jenson Button endured a lonely race en route to fourth place in Russia as Fernando Alonso’s early threat faded as the race went on. The Ferrari driver also lost out to Button’s teammate, Kevin Magnussen, who came home in fifth place.

This strong double-score marks the team’s best result since the Australian Grand Prix in March, where Magnussen and Button finished in second and third place respectively.

“Well, that wasn’t a bad day at all,” Button said after the race. “I reckon we got the maximum out of the car. I had a little scare at turn three on lap one, when Fernando and I got very close to each other, but apart from that it was a pretty straightforward race.

“It’s been a tough year for us but over the past few grands prix it’s been clear that we’ve been improving. Today’s result, fourth and fifth, is the best we’ve had for a little while, and the 22 world championship points that Kevin and I scored are very welcome from a constructors’ world championship point of view.”

Magnussen even compared the race to a relaxed Sunday drive as he faced little opposition on track.

“It was a pretty uneventful afternoon for me,” he said. “It was almost like a chilled-out Sunday drive, in fact, because I was easing off the power 200 metres before the corners in an effort to save fuel.

“I was really surprised that no-one was able to catch me, in fact. I guess the guys behind me must have been experiencing the same problem.”

The team now leads Force India by 10 points in the constructors’ championship with three races remaining as it prepares to wave goodbye to Mercedes power ahead of Honda’s arrival in 2015.

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

Hunter Jett Lawrence 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.”