Dennis: McLaren has best driver line-up in Formula 1

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McLaren CEO Ron Dennis believes that his team’s driver line-up of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button is the best in Formula 1.

McLaren endured a miserable year in 2015 due to a number of issues with its new Honda power unit, limiting Alonso and Button to just 27 points in total that resigned the team to P10 in the constructors’ championship.

Few could question the commitment of either Alonso or Button though, as both battled on throughout the season to try and salvage something from a difficult year.

Speaking to the official F1 website, Dennis cited the power unit as being the biggest weakness in the team while praising both the chassis and the driver line-up.

“Our chassis is a very good one, all the data bears that out,” Dennis said.

“Our driver line-up is the best in the sport – the stats prove that.

“Our partnership with Honda is a new one, or a freshly renewed one to be precise, and it’s not remotely surprising that it should be taking a little while to gel.

“That’s what Formula 1 is like, and it always has been.”

Button and Alonso are unquestionably two of the most successful drivers on the grid, having won three world titles between them and some 47 races between them.

However, their combined success is in fact inferior to that of Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, who have won 57 races and three world titles.

Statistically though, the most successful line-up in F1 belongs to Ferrari, with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen sharing five world championships and 62 grand prix victories.

Button and Alonso do boast more starts than any other drivers on the grid, though. Button sits third in the all-time starts list on 284 races, and will pass the 300 mark in 2016, while Alonso is three places further back on 252 starts.

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.