Max Verstappen finishes FIA F3 season in third place


Max Verstappen has competed in the FIA F3 European Championship for the final time ahead of his move up to Formula 1 in 2015.

The 17-year-old has been subject to much debate after Toro Rosso confirmed that he would be replacing Jean-Eric Vergne for next season, with many questioning his age and inexperience. He is set to smash the record for being the youngest driver to start a grand prix in Australia next March.

Verstappen enjoyed his first practice run-out in a 2014 F1 car at the Japanese Grand Prix, and set an impressive time given his inexperience. He is due to return to the STR9 for practice in Austin, having missed the Russian round due to his FIA F3 commitments.

Despite receiving such high praise from the F1 community, Verstappen could only finish the championship in third place behind champion Esteban Ocon and British driver Tom Blomqvist.

At the final round in Germany this weekend, Verstappen lost second place to Blomqvist after Briton finished on the podium in all three races. Verstappen did manage to win the first race, but could only finish fifth in race two and sixth in race three, causing him to lose a position in the championship. However, he was still delighted with his campaign.

“It’s been an incredible season,” Verstappen said. “If anyone had told me I would finish third in the standings with the most victories, I would’ve settled for that.”

Verstappen did win more races than anyone else across the course of the season, claiming ten victories, but a number of retirements and incidents meant that Ocon was able to get the edge on him and eventually emerge as champion. For his efforts, Ocon will receive a test drive with Lotus F1 Team in Valencia next week.

However, it is Verstappen who will be making the step up to F1 next season with Toro Rosso as he looks to prove the naysayers wrong and make an immediate impression in the sport.

Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan after controversial block pass at Detroit


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.

“It was good racing; it was fun,” Deegan said at about the 27-minute mark in the video above. “I just had some fun doing it.”

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.

Lawrence defends Deegan
Jordon Smith failed to make the Detroit Supercross Main and fell to sixth in the points. – Feld Motor Sports

“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.”

As Deegan and Smith battled, Jeremy Martin took the lead. Deegan finished second in the heat and backed up his performance with a solid third-place showing in the main, which was his second podium finish in a short six-race career. Deegan’s first podium was earned at Daytona, just two rounds ago.

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.

Lawrence defends Deegan
A block pass by Haiden Deegan led to a series of events that eventually led to Jordon Smith failing to make the Main. – Feld Motor Sports

“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.