Romain Grosjean felt pleased with his display in qualifying for the European Grand Prix on Saturday despite narrowly missing out on a place in Q3.
Grosjean arrived in Baku hopeful of ending Haas Formula 1 Team’s three-race run of races without points, having last graced the top 10 in Russia at the beginning of May.
Q2 saw Grosjean finish less than one-tenth of a second behind Felipe Massa in P10, eliminating him before the final leg of qualifying in Baku.
Despite not reaching the top 10, Grosjean said that he felt it was all Haas could realistically achieve on Saturday.
“Pretty good result at the end of the day. It was the best we could’ve hoped for,” Grosjean said.
“Being just outside the top-10 is actually quite good for our strategy and the tires tomorrow. I struggled with the grip and the braking in Q1. I was blocked a couple of times and I was a bit worried. The second run I needed a clean lap and we did that.
“The car felt great in Q2 and I managed to get some good grip from the tires, which helped a lot. We still have to investigate our brakes a bit to make sure the car is performing better.
“Generally, it was a good performance from the team. All weekend long it’s been working well, so I’m happy with that.”
Teammate Esteban Gutierrez qualified 15th after making a mistake on his final Q2 run, much to his disappointment.
“Today hasn’t been a good day for me,” Gutierrez admitted.
“I’ve been struggling a bit with the brakes. On the last lap I took a few risks and I made a small mistake. Unfortunately, I didn’t have another chance after that.
“Overall, I think sometimes you have to take risks and these things happen. In racing you have to try to make the most of every opportunity and, occasionally, it comes out like this.
“Looking ahead to tomorrow, we will try to advance as much as we can and get the best out of our performance. The track will allow for some overtaking so it will be a great race to watch.”
The European Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 8am ET on Sunday.
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.