Hamilton tops quiet second Monaco GP practice


Lewis Hamilton continued his good start to the Monaco Grand Prix weekend by finishing fastest in a quiet second free practice session on Thursday afternoon.

The Mercedes driver posted a fastest lap time of 1:17.192 to finish seven-tenths of a second clear of teammate Nico Rosberg at the top of the timesheets.

However, the session was noteworthy for the lack of on-track action in the final hour of the 90-minute scheduled run time.

Most of the drivers opted to head out early on in FP2 with the soft compound tire fitted in a bid to evaluate their one-lap pace for qualifying on Saturday, with Hamilton and Rosberg setting the pace. Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen followed for Ferrari in third and fourth place, suggesting that the Italian team will once again be the best of the rest once again this weekend.

The session was brought to a halt after 15 minutes when Roberto Merhi crashed into the wall at the exit of the tunnel, damaging the front end of his Manor car and leaving debris strewn across the track.

By the time his car had been cleared and the track was green again, rain had begun to fall on the circuit. Pastor Maldonado was sent out by Lotus on the super-soft tire, only for the team to quickly realize its mistake and order the Venezuelan to carefully return to the pits and miss the wet patches.

Once Maldonado had pitted, the rain grew stronger. With no wet weather forecast for the rest of the weekend, the teams opted to rest their cars, meaning that there was no on-track action until the final ten minutes of the session.

Most of the drivers opted to head out on track on the intermediate tire late on, and although it is unlikely to be of much use, the wet weather data could be handy to teams should rain strike over the weekend.

Kvyat continued Red Bull’s good start to the Monaco weekend by finishing fifth in the final standings, ranking ahead of Toro Rosso drivers Carlos Sainz Jr and Max Verstappen. Alonso finished eighth for McLaren, whilst Nico Hulkenberg and Romain Grosjean rounded out the top ten in ninth and tenth place respectively.

With dry weather forecast for the rest of the weekend, there is unlikely to be any repeat of this quiet session in FP3 on Saturday. Once again though, it is Mercedes who set the pace, and the Silver Arrows will be preparing for another intra-team fight for pole and the race win on Saturday and Sunday.

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.