Vettel: Button would be “a big loss” for F1

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Sebastian Vettel believes that Jenson Button’s possible retirement from Formula 1 would mark “a big loss” for the sport as speculation about the Briton’s future continues to swirl.

Button was reportedly set to announce his retirement from the sport after 16 years ahead of this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, only for the Briton to say on Thursday that he was still engaged in talks with McLaren about his future.

The team is keen to keep Button on for 2016 and pair him with Fernando Alonso once again, but the 2009 world champion admitted earlier this week that did not get the same joy out of racing at the back of the grid.

Speaking in Thursday’s FIA press conference, Vettel spoke fondly of Button, saying that the F1 paddock would be a poorer place should he decide to walk away from the sport.

“It would be a loss, for sure,” Vettel said. “I remember when I was a little kid and he was considered very very young, joining Formula 1. I have to give you that he looked very young when he started with Williams.

“Nowadays though, you have guys who are 17 who are starting already, so in that case he was already old when he started, or I was quite old.

“Certainly, he’s a big character. We know that he’s quick, he deserves to be a champion and I’m sure that if there were more years when he had the package to win the big one, he would have had a big say in that.

“The quality is out of doubt. On top of that he’s a very fair guy on the track. Outside the track, I think we all like him for many reasons so it would be a big loss.”

Button, sat alongside, Vettel, was light-hearted in his response. “Thank you mate, I’ll start crying in a minute, it’s so emotional!” he joked.

Jack Miller wins the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his downward points’ slide


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.