Vettel fastest again on rain-affected second day of Jerez test


Sebastian Vettel’s good start to life with Ferrari continued in Jerez today as he finished the second day of pre-season testing as the fastest driver.

The four-time world champion posted a best time of 1:20.984 to finish ahead of Sauber’s Felipe Nasr and Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, doubling up after also topping the timesheets on Sunday.

Day two in Jerez saw defending world champion Lewis Hamilton enjoy his first public run-out with the new Mercedes W06 Hybrid car, but it did not go entirely to plan. Despite completing more laps than any other driver, his total of 91 fell some way short of teammate Nico Rosberg’s tally of 157 on Sunday.

After being on the pace early on, a problem with the water system on Hamilton’s car sidelined him just after lunch, and the Briton was unable to get back out on track, finishing fourth in the final standings. He will return to the car on Wednesday, with Rosberg stepping in tomorrow.

17-year-old Max Verstappen got his first taste of the Toro Rosso STR10 in Jerez on Monday, finishing a respectable fifth come the end of the day. With 73 laps under his belt, the Dutchman’s experience is certainly growing ahead of the new season.

Despite believing that it would not get out on track until Tuesday, a quick turnaround from Lotus allowed Pastor Maldonado to give the E23 Hybrid its first on-track run. With 41 laps, the Venezuelan driver picked up some good data for the team, even if he encountered one problem whilst out on track in the afternoon.

It was a bad day for both McLaren and Red Bull, though. Jenson Button could manage just six laps in the McLaren MP4-30 as teething problems with the new Honda engine persisted, leaving the Briton down in seventh place.

In a rather bizarre situation, Daniil Kvyat’s first run in a Red Bull was curtailed after he broke the only front wing the team had brought to Jerez. The young Russian was sent back out without a front wing on his car, eventually finishing the day with 18 slow laps to his name.

With one hour to go in Jerez, a heavy rain shower limited running and meant that Vettel’s place at the top of the timesheets was secure. This did not stop the German driver from heading back out in the spray alongside Max Verstappen, Felipe Nasr and Jenson Button, giving their teams some wet-weather data ahead of the new season.

It may only be testing, but once again in Jerez it is Vettel and Ferrari who lead the way. The German driver will next run in the SF15-T at the second test in Barcelona, handing the rest of the Jerez running over to teammate Kimi Raikkonen. You can see the full line-up for tomorrow’s session here.

Jerez Day 2 – Final Results

1. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:20.984 (88 laps)
2. Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:21.867 (89)
3. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:22.319 (61)
4. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:22.490 (91)
5. Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:24.167 (73)
6. Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:25.802 (41)
7. Jenson Button McLaren 1:54.655 (6)
8. Daniil Kvyat Red Bull no time (18)

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

Hunter Jett Lawrence fans
Align Media

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.”