Daniel Ricciardo thanked his Red Bull team for quickly repairing his RB12 car following a crash during practice for the European Grand Prix on Friday.
Ricciardo was the first driver to fall foul of the tight Baku City Circuit, losing the backend of his car at Turn 3 and slamming into the barrier.
The shunt was big enough to warrant a red flag, and left the Red Bull mechanics with a sizeable repair job to complete ahead of second practice later in the day.
However, a swift fix-up meant Ricciardo could take part in the entire FP2 session, where he finished 10th-fastest.
“I didn’t brake too late, I actually came off the brakes too quick and tried to carry too much speed across the corner, even at the apex I didn’t think there was a problem but then the rear kicked out and did quite a lot of damage,” Ricciardo said of the crash.
“On a positive note the guys did a really awesome job to get me out there for second practice so a big thanks to them for allowing me to use the entire session.
“There is some time on the straight to think, which is nice as the corners are technical and you really need to concentrate. Being a street circuit if you want to be quick you need to find the limit and get close to the walls.
“In general we are chasing some grip and not really where we want to be. As we have found at new tracks before, getting the tyres to dig in isn’t easy, so when we improve that we will find some lap time.”
Despite the shunt, Ricciardo was one of a number of drivers to praise the Baku City Circuit, which plays host to F1 for the first time this weekend.
“I think the circuit is pretty cool, it’s definitely as tight as it looks and has a lot of corners unlike any others on the calendar,” Ricciardo said.
“There are a few interesting lines past the castle which adds to the toughness. It’s pretty unique and as I showed this morning some of the corners are pretty challenging and not that easy.”
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
“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.