Gutierrez working hard to get back on F1 grid in 2016 as Haas speculation continues

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Esteban Gutierrez believes that his work in a reserve role with Ferrari in 2015 is helping to open up new opportunities within Formula 1 as he goes in search of a race seat for next season.

Gutierrez joined Ferrari as a reserve driver at the beginning of the season following two years in F1 with Sauber that saw him score six points.

The Mexican driver has supported full-time drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen throughout the season, and got the chance to test the SF15-T car in Spain and Austria earlier this year.

Gutierrez has been linked with a seat at Haas F1 Team for its debut season in 2016 after the American outfit agreed a technical partnership with Ferrari.

Speaking in a conference call on Thursday, Gutierrez explained how his work with Ferrari is helping to open up some new opportunities that he hopes to consolidate for 2016.

“It would mean a lot [to get a full-time race seat],” Gutierrez said. “I came to Ferrari as a third driver with a purpose and with a vision. Obviously I took quite a big risk, because stepping down from a race seat is always a risk to take.

“First of all, it’s not easy to get into Formula 1, and secondly it’s not easy to be out and then in again. This is a risk that was taken with a vision and with a project in front.

“Thankfully, things have been going very well with my relationship with Scuderia Ferrari, and I’m very happy with how things have been going.

“I’ve been trying to contribute a lot to them, and it’s opening new opportunities for me in the future. I’m working very hard to consolidate that for next season.”

Gutierrez also revealed that Ferrari remains keen on giving him a practice run-out at his home race in Mexico this November, but that the decision is largely dependent on its championship chances.

“It’s not confirmed,” Gutierrez said. “Ferrari wants to give me the opportunity. I think it would be something very special, but obviously it depends on many things.

“As my boss, Mauricio Arrivabene, has already mentioned that possibility. I think it would basically depend on how things are going on in the championship at that stage in the [season].”

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.