Hamilton doubts Monza will be cut from F1 schedule

0 Comments

Defending Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton doubts that the Autodromo Nazionale Monza will be cut from the sport due to its historic value.

Monza has hosted the Italian Grand Prix in all but one of the F1 world championship seasons, but is at risk of falling off the calendar due to financial uncertainty and an increasingly global outlook for the sport.

Most within F1 have condemned the possible loss of Monza, and Hamilton became the latest figure to lend his support to the Italian circuit when speaking over the Spanish Grand Prix weekend.

“Well there’s two sides to it,” Hamilton said. “You’ve got the actual circuit, which holds great historic value to the sport. Then you’ve got the fans, who ultimately make the weekend.

“You’ve got those few races through the year – Silverstone, Spanish Grand Prix, Italian Grand Prix, German Grand Prix – which to me are the foundation of the sport, particularly as you’ve got so many fans there.”

The Italian Grand Prix boasts one of the best atmospheres in F1 thanks to the loyal Ferrari fans – the ‘Tifosi’ – that make their way to the track each year.

“When you’re on the podium at the Italian Grand Prix, the whole straight is full of Ferrari fans,” Hamilton said. “You don’t get to see that in other places, so I think it’s important that we keep it.

“You lose the Italian Grand Prix, you lose all those fans. I can’t see it happening. I think ultimately it’s all politics and stuff which I’m sure will get sorted out.”

Monza’s contract expires following the 2016 edition of the race, and is set to retain its September slot for next season as per last month’s leaked calendar.

Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images
0 Comments

Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.