Starting grid for the 2015 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton will start today’s Bahrain Grand Prix from pole position after producing yet another scintillating display in qualifying on Saturday, but remains wary of the threat posed by Ferrari ahead of today’s race.

The defending Formula 1 world champion posted a fastest lap time of 1:32.571 in the final stage of qualifying to secure pole in Bahrain for the first time, four-tenths of a second clear of Sebastian Vettel in the Ferrari.

Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg was forced to settle for third place on the grid, admitting after the session that he failed to get into the correct rhythm during Q2 and was unable to hook up a quick lap when it mattered.

Kimi Raikkonen rounded out the top four in the sister Ferrari, whilst Williams finished P5 and P6 with Valtteri Bottas finishing ahead of Felipe Massa.

Ferrari’s race pace during FP2 on Friday suggested that it could pose a serious challenge to Mercedes on Sunday, and with Vettel and Raikkonen getting amongst the Silver Arrows in qualifying, the stage is set for a thrilling battle under the lights in Bahrain.

Vettel knows what it takes to beat Mercedes in 2015, having claimed a shock victory at the Malaysian Grand Prix three weeks ago. High temperatures are set to favor Ferrari once again, but both Hamilton and Rosberg are more aware of the pace that the SF15-T possesses this time around.

You can read our full qualifying report here.

FROM THE STEWARDS’ OFFICE

  • Kimi Raikkonen received a reprimand on Friday for exiting the pits in an unsafe manner during FP2. Lewis Hamilton was cleared of any wrongdoing by the stewards for the same offence.
  • Sebastian Vettel avoided a penalty despite making contact with Sergio Perez in FP2 on Friday. The German driver was found not to have been released in an unsafe state by Ferrari despite his wheel not being attached properly.
  • Jenson Button has been given permission to race in Bahrain despite not posting a time in qualifying, and therefore finishing outside of the 107% time. He did post a time quick enough to meet this in FP2, though.

STARTING GRID FOR THE 2015 BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
3. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
4. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari
5. Valtteri Bottas Williams
6. Felipe Massa Williams
7. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull
8. Nico Hulkenberg Force India
9. Carlos Sainz Jr Toro Rosso
10. Romain Grosjean Lotus
11. Sergio Perez Force India
12. Felipe Nasr Sauber
13. Marcus Ericsson Sauber
14. Fernando Alonso McLaren
15. Max Verstappen Toro Rosso
16. Pastor Maldonado Lotus
17. Daniil Kvyat Red Bull
18. Will Stevens Manor
19. Roberto Merhi Manor
20. Jenson Button McLaren

The Bahrain Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 10:30am ET on Sunday.

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

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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.