Alonso pleased with P6 given engine power deficit

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Fernando Alonso has said that he is pleased to have qualified in sixth place for tomorrow’s United States Grand Prix given that the engine in his Ferrari F14 T is down on power this weekend.

Alonso is using an older engine so he can avoid taking a penalty and ensure that he has a fresh power unit saved for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which is worth double points.

Despite the power deficit, Alonso said that qualifying sixth was normal for him and Ferrari, so he was pleased with the result.

“We have been around fifth and sixth all year long in qualifying,” Alonso said. “Nothing will change probably now. I think maybe challenging [Daniel] Ricciardo.

“We were a couple of tenths down on the engine. We had some communications there after the Monza engine failure. At the factory we were discussing last week if we should use the sixth engine and start from the pit lane like Red Bull did.

“We’re using a very old engine, with a little bit less power and at least we don’t need to recover places. We chose the second option, so we are missing a bit of performance. Anyway, fifth and sixth is the way it is and I’m quite pleased with that.”

This way, Alonso will not need to follow Sebastian Vettel’s example and start the race from the pit lane.

“We are doing all of these things to avoid taking the sixth [engine],” Alonso said. “Of course, Abu Dhabi we must have no penalty because it’s double points, so if we manage here and we manage in Brazil, in Abu Dhabi we have no penalty plus a good engine. We have a better engine available. Here I can manage the races this weekend.”

Alonso does not think that he can finish on the podium in Austin, believing that Mercedes and Williams are too far ahead at the front of the field.

“I think Ricciardo and Vettel, who was doing competitive long-runs, I think he will be around us tomorrow. The McLarens, they are around us as well. We’ll see. The first four cars, Mercedes and Williams, are a little bit too fast for us if we are realistic. We just need to concentrate on that second race.”

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Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images
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Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.