Ferrari technical director Pat Fry downplayed the engine issue that ended Fernando Alonso’s FP2, even though it was one of two Ferraris that had issues during the session (Esteban Gutierrez parked his Sauber at nearly the identical spot exiting Turn 3 later in the session).
Fry was still pleased at day’s end, as Alonso’s teammate Kimi Raikkonen had one of his best Fridays in a while, ending third behind the two Mercedes.
“The fire, it’s a high-mileage Friday engine to be honest,” Fry said during the Friday FIA press conference. “I’m sure every team’s in a similar boat so it doesn’t really affect the strategy that we run on a Saturday and a Sunday, so that side of things, it looks more spectacular and it’s hard work for us to clean it all up but it’s not that big a deal.
“We’ve been trying different setup options with Kimi and he seems happier,” he added. “We’ve been reviewing… it’s been a constant battle for us to try and work out and give him the front end he wants in the car. We’re a little bit closer and it shows that, if we can give him the car that gives him the right feedback, he’s right there and right on the pace.”
Fry noted graining was still an issue for both cars, and wasn’t sure where they stacked up on long-run pace. That may not be much of an issue if rain hits the Interlagos circuit for the remainder of the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend.
In terms of a longer-form look, Fry is happy with the progress the team has made to open the weekend as it seeks to end the year on a high, and hold off McLaren for fourth in the Constructor’s Championship. To catch Williams for third, it will take a bit of luck.
“Some of the changes that have been emplaced are already paying huge dividends in the way we’re developing next year’s car,” Fry explained. “Only time will tell really. There’s a huge amount of catching-up we need to do but at least there’s the drive to improve the technical process, invest where we need to. It’s a long-term process but the right path is there to get us back to the top.”
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
“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.