Rosberg ‘not ecstatic’ with China pole due to Hamilton problem

0 Comments

Nico Rosberg was content but not overawed by his pole position in qualifying for Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix after Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton was sidelined by an engine issue early on.

Hamilton failed to post a time in Q1 due to an ERS problem on his Mercedes W07 Hybrid car, resigning him to the back of the grid for the start of tomorrow’s race.

Rosberg took advantage of Hamilton’s demise to pick up his first pole of the season, beating Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen at the end of Q3.

Speaking after the session, Rosberg was happy with his display, but said he did not feel ecstatic after seeing Hamilton hit trouble.

“I’m pleased of course. The whole weekend has gone well,” Rosberg said.

“The car was handling well today in qualifying. To get a lap done and put it in pole, I’m happy about that of course.

“I’m not ecstatic because of course Lewis had bad luck and his car broke down. The fight didn’t happen, didn’t take place.

“But anyway, I’m pleased.”

Rosberg will start Sunday’s race on the soft tire after managing to get through Q2 without using the quicker super-softs, which Mercedes was known to be uneasy about using in the race due to their short life.

However, Rosberg remains unsure about what kind of advantage it will offer.

“I’m not really sure, I haven’t dug into strategy stuff so much just yet,” Rosberg said.

“I think it’s going to be a good thing to start with that tire, but I’m not sure yet, we need to look into it tonight.”

The Chinese Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 1:30am ET on Sunday.

Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images
0 Comments

Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.