Button upbeat despite two practice stoppages in Bahrain

0 Comments

Jenson Button chose to look on the bright side following practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix on Friday despite stopping out on track twice and competing just 17 laps in total.

Button’s FP1 lasted just three minutes after he spun the car at turn one thanks to an engine problem, causing the car to stall and stop in the middle of the corner.

The Briton got back out on track for FP2, only to stop the car as a precautionary measure due to another engine issue. He did manage to get some laps in towards the end of the session, finishing 19th in the final standings.

“I guess it wasn’t a great day, but at least we got a lot of useful data on the car,” Button said.

“The slightly frustrating thing, though, is that both cars were set up quite differently today, to get comparative aero info, and we weren’t really able to benefit from that on my car.”

“Hopefully, we won’t have further issues. That way, I can get some decent running tomorrow so as to see what the car is doing.

“Whatever happens, though, it’s not going to be an easy weekend. We knew that already. And qualifying will undoubtedly be tricky again!”

Fernando Alonso enjoyed a more fruitful day in the sister McLaren, finishing P7 in FP1 and 12th in FP2 whilst gathering some vital data to help the development of the MP4-30 car.

“Today I had a very smooth day, and I was happy with the car in every condition, so tomorrow we just need to make sure we optimise the performance of the car and try to get a good result,” Alonso said.

“We can see that we’re getting closer and closer to the mid-pack with every race. Definitely we’re moving in the right direction, we just need to do it that bit quicker.”

Racing director Eric Boullier spoke about a day of two halves for McLaren following practice, and apologized to Button for the problems that plagued his running.

“On the one hand, Fernando enjoyed a trouble-free morning followed by an equally unproblematic afternoon, running through his planned programme without mishap,” the Frenchman said.

“On the other, Jenson was forced to endure a frustrating day, the result of not one but two major interruptions, compromising his ability to complete satisfactorily not only FP1 but also FP2. We apologize to him for that.

“Even so, we’ve gathered valuable data, which our engineers will study this evening and tonight.”

You can watch qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix live on CNBC from 11am ET on Saturday.

Jack Miller wins MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his points slide

0 Comments

Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.