Rosberg’s revival continues with controlled Brazilian GP victory


In a flurry of déjà vu from 2014, Nico Rosberg soaked up race-long pressure from Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to win the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos on Sunday.

Rosberg retained his lead at the start and manage to keep Hamilton at an arm’s length for the majority of the race, easing home to record his fifth victory of the season and secure himself second place in the drivers’ championship ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel rounded out the podium in a relatively routine grand prix that saw Ferrari finish as the best of the rest without ever posing a genuine threat to Mercedes at the front of the field.

In fact, lapped cars proved to be the biggest bug-bear for both Rosberg and Hamilton throughout the race, but the latter was unable to emulate hero Ayrton Senna and pick up his first win at Interlagos, continuing his drought at the circuit.

Off the line, Rosberg made a clean start to retain his advantage on the short run down to the first corner. Hamilton considered a move around the outside, going wheel-to-wheel with his teammate momentarily before opting to play safe and settle down into second position.

Rosberg managed to drop Hamilton out of DRS range in the early stages of the race, pulling out a 1.5 second advantage over the Briton before making his first pit stop on lap 13. A slow stop from the Mercedes crew gave Hamilton the chance to cut the gap when he stopped one lap later, but he was unable to jump Rosberg, leaving him to re-emerge out on track in second place.

Hamilton managed to cut the gap back down again in the opening stages of his second stint, moving to within just three-tenths of a second after Rosberg made a small mistake. However, whenever Hamilton closed, he began to lose time running in his teammate’s dirty air, causing him to drop back again.

Keen to find a way past Rosberg, Hamilton asked Mercedes if an alternative pit strategy would give him the chance to take the lead. The pit wall informed him that switching to ‘plan B’ would put him at risk of losing second to Ferrari, meaning his only chance to win was by passing Rosberg on-track.

Mercedes brought Rosberg in for an early second pit stop on lap 33, following Ferrari’s lead. Hamilton was told to push, giving him the opportunity to cut the gap, but traffic meant he had to pit just one lap later, leaving him in second place yet again and now 3.3 seconds down on his teammate.

Rosberg was quickly informed that both Mercedes cars were switching to ‘plan B’ due to higher than expected tire wear, suggesting that a third stop would take place later on. The German continued to manage the gap at the front, while Sebastian Vettel lurked behind for Ferrari on the soft tire as he too considered an alternative strategy.

Vettel made his third and final pit stop on lap 47, and was followed in one lap later by Rosberg. Mercedes once again fitted the medium compound tire to the German’s car before doing the same to Hamilton’s one lap later.

For the third time in the race, Hamilton snaked out of the pit lane with Rosberg just a couple of seconds ahead. However, he soon began to close up thanks to traffic, moving to within just 1.1 seconds of the lead.

Yet again though, Rosberg was able to manage the gap and respond accordingly. He soon eked out the advantage once again, ending Hamilton’s hopes of a maiden victory in Brazil.

After 71 laps, Rosberg crossed the line to record his fifth win of the season and go back-to-back at Interlagos following on from his 2014 victory. Hamilton’s tires faded late on, leaving him to trail his teammate by 7.7 seconds at the end of the race in second place, while Vettel completed the podium for Ferrari.

Kimi Raikkonen was one of the few drivers to stop twice, but was unable to make it work effectively, leaving him to finish fourth ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Nico Hulkenberg.

Daniil Kvyat led Red Bull’s charge in seventh ahead of home favorite Felipe Massa, while Romain Grosjean won a spirited battle for ninth place that saw him edge out Lotus teammate Pastor Maldonado late on.

Maldonado was unable to hang on to the final points-paying position as Max Verstappen passed late on to finish 10th, ending a day filled with fine overtakes with something to show for his efforts.

Daniel Ricciardo spent his entire race running outside of the points, but rose to 12th towards the end, finishing behind Maldonado. Sergio Perez ended the day 13th ahead of home favorite Felipe Nasr and the McLaren duo of Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso.

Marcus Ericsson finished 17th for Sauber ahead of Manor’s Will Stevens, while American driver Alexander Rossi’s final F1 race of the year saw him prop up the order in P19.

Carlos Sainz Jr. was the only retirement after his race lasted just a few corners. An issue with his rear axle forced him to park up at the side of the track at turn five, having already been forced to start from the pit lane due to a prior problem on his installation lap in the latest lot of bad luck that has mired his rookie F1 season.

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.