Hamilton on Baku qualifying error: “It was all me”


Yet again, Lewis Hamilton will be forced to play catch-up in a Grand Prix this year as he’ll roll off from 10th for Sunday’s European Grand Prix in Baku, Azerbaijan (Sunday, 8 a.m. ET, NBCSN).

Hamilton, who has won the two most recent Grands Prix in Monaco and Canada and has a propensity for winning at new circuits, lost his form in qualifying today after leading all three practice sessions around the treacherous 3.7-mile street circuit.

An error where Hamilton hit his right front wheel on a wall resigned him to 10th without a representative time, stopped on course with a damaged car, and leaves him playing catch-up for the fourth time this year.

While others were mechanical gremlins, Hamilton put his mistake today solely down to him.

“I don’t think Baku bit me. I tried to take too much. It was all me,” Hamilton told NBCSN’s Will Buxton afterwards. “It was nothing to do with the track or the team. I wasn’t driving well today.”

Hamilton said setup changes to improve upon an already dominant Friday in Baku backfired.

“It is definitely a track you have to take chances. But this was just not getting in a groove. One corner was good, one corner was bad,” he explained.

“It was just the most uncomfortable I’ve been a long time. I cant express why. Yesterday was great. Some changes overnight and not as great today. We will try to recover tomorrow.”

Hamilton will look to recapture the form but otherwise he risks losing points to Nico Rosberg for the first time in four races, since Russia when Rosberg last won.

“I have no idea, but yesterday was a really nice day. Try to get away from the hustle and bustle here, get some good night sleep and try to pick it up.”

Hamilton has scored points in his occasions following qualifying issues, but he’s at a net loss to points to Rosberg in those three races.

At China, he went from 22nd to seventh and at Russia, 10th to second. Monaco he had early qualifying issues within Q3 but rebounded to a famous victory after Red Bull’s tire mistake on a pit stop for Daniel Ricciardo.

In those three races, Rosberg has won twice and come seventh, so he’s scored 56 points in those three races to Hamilton’s 49.

Hamilton enters Sunday’s race nine points back of Rosberg.

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.