Grosjean hopes Verstappen learns from Monaco crash

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Romain Grosjean believes that the late crash with Max Verstappen in yesterday’s Monaco Grand Prix would have taught the Dutch driver a lesson in how not to overtake around the notorious street circuit.

Thanks to the tight and twisting layout, overtaking is near-impossible around the streets of Monaco, but this did not stop Verstappen from mounting a charge for tenth place in the final 20 laps of the race on Sunday.

The 17-year-old opted to try and follow Sebastian Vettel through the traffic, with the Ferrari driving being one lap ahead on the Toro Rosso driver.

Verstappen used this tactic to good effect, closing up on Grosjean before attempting a pass into the first corner. However, he misread where the Frenchman had placed his car and crashed into the back of him before flying into the barrier at high speed.

Grosjean was initially angry, swearing to his engineer about Verstappen, but was far calmer about the incident after the race.

“I didn’t see much of the accident with Verstappen, just his car flying past me in the air,” Grosjean explained. “Overtaking in Monaco is difficult and I think he gained that bit of experience today.

“It’s good to know he’s okay, as it was a bit dangerous for both of us, and it cost us what would have been a hard-earned point.”

Grosjean had been poised to claim a fourth successive top ten finish, but eventually crossed the line down in 12th place as a result of the incident.

“Until then my race had been going pretty well when you consider where we started,” Grosjean said. “The car felt good and the strategy was working well.

“After the accident, I turned around which established all four wheels were there, then looked in the mirrors to see if the rear wing was still there too, then got on with my race.”

Grosjean’s Lotus teammate, Pastor Maldonado, suffered his fifth retirement in the first six races of the 2015 season thanks to an issue with the brake-by-wire system on his car.

“I had a problem with the brakes and I could feel the pedal pressure wasn’t right from very early on and that compromised our race from the off,” the Venezuelan driver said.

“It got worse and worse so we had to retire the car. It’s a shame for the team, we had a good car here, very good pace for the race and I think a strong strategy.

“There’s potential in the car, we just need to carry on, work hard, and look forward in the championship.”

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

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images
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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.