Youth is served: 4 drivers show what they can do in first of 2-day F1 in-season test at Barcelona


In the first of a two-day test at Circuit de Catalunya, four up-and-coming drivers either had their first experience behind the wheel of an F1 ride or added to the brief experience they’ve already had to date.

It was the first of two in-season tests (the other is after June’s Austrian Grand Prix) that F1 has sanctioned.

Sauber reserve driver Raffaele Marciello (Ferrari), along with Oliver Turvey (McLaren Honda), Pierre Gasly (Scuderia Toro Rosso) and Nick Yelloly (Sahara Force India) were among the nine drivers that took part in the test.

F1 veteran Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) not only clocked the best time of the day (1:24.374), but also the most number of laps (146).

As for the four young drivers, Marciello was the fastest of the group (and third overall of the nine-driver field), with a time of 1:26.648 (and ran 125 laps). Marciello had earlier running in the week during Free Practice 1 (pictured above) with Sauber.

Yelloly was sixth-quickest in the field (1:27.396) and ran 109 laps. He was not slated to test until Wednesday, but with Pascal Wehrlein under the weather, Yelloly’s schedule was moved up a day.

Before the day began, it was clear how excited Yelloly was.

Meanwhile, Gasly was seventh-quickest (1:27.639 and 131 laps).

More: Up-and-coming Frenchman Pierre Gasly has ‘exceptional’ first F1 test in Barcelona

The fourth first-time F1 driver, Oliver Turvey, rounded out the field but struggled to find speed that cut into his lap count (1:28.542 and just 66 laps), leaving him as the slowest of the nine drivers that took to the track.

McLaren opted to focus on aero work in the morning but was delayed by sensor issues. Turvey ran untroubled in the afternoon as the team focused on suspension work.

Jenson Button will take over for Turvey on Wednesday and attempt to squeeze out more speed and performance.

Rosberg fastest in opening day of Barcelona in-season test

NOTES: Legendary Australian driver and engineer Frank Matich passed away in Sydney. He was 80 years old. In 2013, Matich was named by Autosport magazine as one of the best 50 drivers to never have raced in Formula 1 (he turned down several offers to race in F1 to remain loyal to his native roots). … Also, Tuesday marked the 24th anniversary of the late Ayrton Senna’s win from the pole in the 1991 Monaco Grand Prix, the fourth of his record six wins in the principality.

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Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan after controversial block pass at Detroit


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.

“It was good racing; it was fun,” Deegan said at about the 27-minute mark in the video above. “I just had some fun doing it.”

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.

Lawrence defends Deegan
Jordon Smith failed to make the Detroit Supercross Main and fell to sixth in the points. – Feld Motor Sports

“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.”

As Deegan and Smith battled, Jeremy Martin took the lead. Deegan finished second in the heat and backed up his performance with a solid third-place showing in the main, which was his second podium finish in a short six-race career. Deegan’s first podium was earned at Daytona, just two rounds ago.

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.

Lawrence defends Deegan
A block pass by Haiden Deegan led to a series of events that eventually led to Jordon Smith failing to make the Main. – Feld Motor Sports

“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.