Verstappen hit with grid penalty for dangerous parking

© Getty Images
2 Comments

Max Verstappen will start tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix from 18th place after being hit with a grid penalty for parking his Toro Rosso in a dangerous manner during qualifying on Saturday.

Verstappen suffered an electrical issue on his STR10 coming out of turn 11 at Suzuka, causing his car to lose power and come to a halt.

The Dutchman failed to park his car in a safe position that was out of the way of the oncoming cars, instead leaving it on the racing line.

This forced the marshals to issue double waved yellow flags that prevented all of the drivers behind from improving their lap times, causing some to drop out of qualifying as a result.

Verstappen managed to get through to the second session in P8, but the issue meant that he could take no part in Q2, leaving him 15th in the final classification.

The stewards looked dimly on his efforts to get the car stopped in a safe place, though, and opted to hand the 17-year-old a three-place grid penalty.

“Car 33 [Verstappen] stopped on the racing line in a potentially dangerous position,” the stewards wrote.

“The driver initially moved to the left side of the track towards a safe position and when it was about to stop, moved to the right onto the racing line, where it eventually stopped. This caused double yellow flags to be shown and endangered oncoming drivers.”

Verstappen was disappointed to have suffered the technical issue in qualifying, but remains upbeat ahead of his first grand prix at the iconic Suzuka circuit.

“Certainly not the best of days,” Verstappen said. “I had a sudden loss of power, all the electricity shut down in the hairpin and from there on I couldn’t do anything.

“It’s very frustrating, because the car was going very well, but in the end it is what it is. We might be on the back foot again before the race, but we never give up.

“Hopefully tomorrow we have a bit more luck and can enjoy a good race – it would be good if some rain spices it all up! Our objective will be to finish within the top ten. We have to do some overtaking again, but I’m ready for it!”

The Japanese Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 12:30am ET on Sunday.

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

0 Comments

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.