Raikkonen returns Ferrari to top Wednesday in Jerez

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Ferrari-powered cars completed a week sweep of the first official preseason test of the year, with Kimi Raikkonen on top Wednesday in the fourth day at Jerez.

Raikkonen was second on Tuesday behind the Sauber-Ferrari of Felipe Nasr, and put the SF15-T back on top Wednesday with the fastest lap of the week – a 1:20.841 from 106 laps completed.

Marcus Ericsson continued Sauber’s strong week in second with Lewis Hamilton third for Mercedes. These two each also clocked more than 100 laps on the day. Both caused a red flag –  Hamilton for a spin and Ericsson for stopping on course near the end of the day – but neither was a significant hindrance to their running.

Elsewhere Daniil Kvyat had an apparent ERS failure on his Red Bull, adding to his week of frustration that also him breaking the front wing on Sunday. He at least managed 63 laps on Wednesday.

For McLaren-Honda, more issues persisted with a fuel pump issue ending Jenson Button’s day early. On the bright side, the Englishman posted both his and McLaren’s best time of the week at 1:27.660, and completed 35 laps. Neither McLaren driver got a ton of track time.

F1 is off to Barcelona later this month, Feb. 19-22, for the second test of the preseason. Force India may join with its new car, but reports have indicated recently that might be pushed back even further.

Meanwhile times from Wednesday can be found below. See links to Tuesday, Monday and Sunday times here.

Jerez Day 4 – Final Results

1. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:20.841 (106 laps)
2. Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:22.019 (112)
3. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:22.172 (116)
4. Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:22.553 (97)
5. Felipe Massa Williams 1:23.116 (73)
6. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:23.802 (53)
7. Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 1:23.975 (63)
8. Jenson Button McLaren 1:27.660 (35)

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

Hunter Jett Lawrence fans
Align Media
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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.”